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A DETECTIVE STQ 



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THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY 



THE 



ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY 



A DETECTIVE STOJRY 



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CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER 

I. At Rokewood 

II. The Will . 

III. The Missing Heir 

IV. The Nobody 
V. A Pedigree Wanted 

VI. A Beautiful Nobody 

VII. At the Costumer's Shop 

VIII. Mr. Jeakles and Wife 

IX. Twenty Thousand Do .laws Reward 

X. The Story of Catherine Rokewood 

XI. The Troubles of Miss Pollie Wardla 

XII. The Captain Opens the Case 

XIII. The Captain makes a Discovery . 

XIV. Bane's Distrust 

XV. Miss Pollie Wardlaw to Mr. Bellew 

XVI. Concerning Mr. Jeakles . 

XVII. Mr. Jeakles Indulges in Sarcasm 

XVIII. Marley Sees a Ghost 

XIX. Retrospective 

XX. In Extremis 

XXI. Mr. Jeakles Claims the Reward 

XX II. Mr. Jeakles' Story . 

XXIII. Mr. Jeakles Continues . 

XXIV. Mrs. Jeakles Talks . 
XXV. The Detective Shows his Hand 

XXVI. After Many Years . 

XXVII. Reunited 

XXVIII. Conclusion 



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THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY. 



CHAPTER I. 



AT ROKEWOOD. 



"To the State of Virginia I give 
and bequeath all my personal pro- 
perty, with the exception of twenty 
thousand dollars, to be used as here- 
inafter mentioned. 

" The sum of twenty thousand 
dollars is herein set aside to be used 
as a standing reward for the arrest 
and capture of Catherine Deane — 
otherwise known as Catherine Roke- 
wood, who escaped from Wansmore 
Prison while under sentence of death 
for murder, the tenth day of Sep- 
tember, in the year eighteen hundred 
and sixty ." 

It was a long, low-ceiled room, 
with the small, old-fashioned window- 
panes and the wide-mouthed fire- 
place common to the houses built a 
century ago. 

In a far corner of the room, where 



the shadows seemed darkest and 
dreariest of all, stood a tall high-post 
bedstead, and a white, pinched face, 
worn and haggard, pressed the pil- 
lows. 

" Marley," cried the weak voice 
of the sick man, " I hear the tramp 
of horses' feet. Has he come ? " 

" Not yet, sir," answered Marley, 
from his seat at the head of his 
master's bed. " It is not time." 

" I say it is time," persisted the 
voice, which expressed anger as well 
as weakness in its accents. " Marley, 
how dare you contradict me ? I 
tell you I heard the steps." 

" Yes, sir," said Marley, submis- 
sively. 

"Well. Then why don't you 
bring him in here — the business is 
urgent ? Fool that I have been to 
wait until now to make my will. 
Open the door." 

The old servant rose, and, going 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY 



noiselessly to the opposite side of 
the apartment, threw the door back 
upon its hinges. 

" You can see for yourself, Mr. 
Rokewood, that nobody is waiting 
to enter," cried Marley, respect- 
fully. 

The sick man peered out from his 
shadowy corner into the dense dark- 
ness of the passage. " True," as- 
sented he, fretfully; " he is very slow. 
Sit down again Marley, by my bed- 
side, and take my hands in yours. 
I feel better so. Strange, isn't it, 
that, unless I can feel the waim, 
healthy clasp of your hands on 
mine, my soul seems to want to 
play me tricks and flit away from my 
control ? " 

"You are very ill, sir." 

The sick man irritably pushed 
away the hand that had obediently 
talcen his own. 

" Out upon you, Marley," said 
Rokewood, " knave that you are. 
Is it you — you who have served me 
faithfully as boy and man, who now 
prates to me of illness ? " 

" The doctors " 

" Who cares for the doctors — 
curse them ! They make fat grave- 
yards, Marley — that's about all they 
are good for. In spite of what they 
say, I'm good for twenty years yet. 



Doctors are only mortal men, and 
they are not infallible ; you should 
read what history has to say of 
doctors, Marley." 

" Yes, sir." 

" And history will tell you that 
when King Charles the Second was 
taken a little ailing his attendants 
called in fourteen doctors to pre- 
scribe for him j and when they had 
deliberated on the King's case they 
contradicted each other and them- 
selves. Some thought the King 
epileptic, some thought him ap- 
oplectic, and then it was determined 
to call his disease a fever, and ad- 
minister doses of bark. One only 
hit the truth, and he ran to the 
Queen and told her his brethren 
would kill the King. Go to Macau- 
lay's history for this statement, 
Marley ; you'll find it there." 

" And did the King die ?" asked 
the servant, gently smoothing the 
thin fingers he had again taken in 
his hand. 

Rokewood burst into a feverish 
laugh. 

"Die?" he gasped, recovering 
himself. " I should say so ; how 
could he help it, with fourteen doctors 
about him, all determined to have 
their way with him ? Fourteen men 
against one man is an unfair ad- 



AT ROKEWOOD. 



vantage, and he had to die. It was 
a case of compulsion, and he died 
to get rid of them. Don't forget 
that, whatever else you forget ; for 
King Charles the Second certainly 
died to get rid of the doctors. But 
hark ! What is that ? " 

There was no sound save that of the 
wind as it swept up over the house- 
top and went wailing down the long 
pine avenue leading from the house 
to the road. 

" It was nothing, sir, only the 
wind,'' said the serving-man, sooth- 
ingly. 

"Nothing?" whispered Roke- 
wood, hoarsely. 

" Only the wind, sir." 

" Strange," muttered the sick man. 
" I could have sworn, Marley, that 
I heard Catherine's shriek — the 
awful, weird, unearthly cry she 
gave when they sentenced her 
over yonder," pointing a lean 
and shaking finger towards the 
town. 

" Do not think of that now," cried 
Marley, hurriedly ; " it. is all passed 
and gone for ever." 

" Not think of it ? " cried Roke- 
wood, beating the bed in sudden 
fury. " Oh ! if I could only stop 
thinking of it ; but I cannot." 

Marley threw himself upon his 



knees by the bedside of his dying 
master. 

"In restitution you would find 
peace," he whispered, earnestly. 
" Oh, my dear, kind master, have 
you never thought of that ? " 

" Never will I undo what I have 
done." 

" But your promise to me," cried 
Marley, wringing his hands. " You 
told me years ago that you would 
not die with that sin upon your 
soul." 

" Hist ! Marley, what would you ? 
Look there, behind those red cur- 
tains — I saw her." He put out his 
shaking hands as though he would 
thus hide the picture away from his 
sight. 

" Only your imagination, sir," said 
the servant. 

" Hear it ? How plain it sounds 
to night. It is the anniversary to- 
day—twenty years ago— that she 
was sentenced to be hanged. I 
can hear that cry of hers now. 
O— o— o ! " 

"Think no more about it," in- 
treated the servant, wiping the 
death-dew from his master's foce. 

" Great heavens ! " shrieked Roke- 
wood; "you know not what }ou 
ask. As well might you command 
the sea to stop its restless motion. 



IO 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY: 



Night and day, day and night, that 
awful cry has rung in my ears for 
twenty years. Hist ! how plain it 
sounds now." 

He cowered down under the bed- 
clothes in abject terror, great drops 
of sweat standing out on his hands 
and face, as he listened to the ima- 
ginary sound. 

The tramp of a horse's feet rang 
out on the turf, and the rattle of 
fast - approaching carriage wheels 
attracted the sick man's attention. 

" Light the lamps," he gasped to 
the servant; "light all the lamps, 
and leave me alone when he comes 
in here. No prying about, re- 
member." 

Marley did as he was directed. 
Soon a flood of light streamed from 
the many windows, and a second 
later a carriage dashed up to the 
door and halted. 

A tall, spare man with grey hair 
and long grey beard alighted there- 
from and entered the house. 

" Come at last," said Rokewood, 
feverishly. " You were not always 
so slow in answering my summons, 
Wiverly." 

"True; but I was away when 
your message was left at the office. 
How are ycu to-night ?" 

" Well, as usual, I think," re- 



turned the sick man, turning uneasily 
on his pillow. " Well, as usual, but for 
the strange fancies that have lately 
taken possession of my brain." 

" I have brought the papers as 
you directed me to do." 

" Yes, yes," with an impatient 
wave of the thin, white hand. " But 
there was really no need after all. 
Marley and those cursed doctors tell 
me that I am going to die, and I 
thought it would be as well to make 
my will to-night ; but already I am 
feeling better." 

" We must all die some time or 
other," rejoined the lawyer, quietly, 
" and it is a wise man who arranges 
his business in season." 

"Ay, to be sure. You are 
right, Wiverly, as you always were." 

" I have brought your old will, 
which you tell me is to be de- 
stroyed." 

" Burn it now." 

Wiverly laid a paper on the few 
coals that burned on the hearth. A 
puff, a single flame shooting sud- 
denly far up the chimney, and it 
was gone for ever. " Now, then, it 
is" gone. I wait your further in- 
structions," said he, arranging papers, 
pens, and ink on the stand by the 
bedside. 

" Hush !" cried Rokewood, wildly, 



AT ROKEWOOD. 



II 



" hush ! Did you hear that shriek ? 
How unearthly it sounds to night ! 
God ! If I might never hear it 
more I could rest and be at peace." 

" It is the wind," said Wiverly, 
listening for a moment to the sigh- 
ing of the old pines. " It is the 
wind, and nothing more." 

" It is she," screamed Rokewood, 
wildly, " it is Catherine's voice I 
hear shrieking, shrieking, shrieking ! 
Begone, I say, begone ! I am not 
dead, I will not die. See her ! there 
she sits," pointing a shaky finger to- 
wards a shadowy corner. "Scream," 
he continued, his voice sinking to a 
terrible whisper, " scream, and well 
you may ; for in life, in death, to 
the end of time itself I am your 
bitterest foe." 

Wiverly poured out a soothing 
potion from a vial standing near, 
and administered it to the sick man. 
" Control yourself, Rokewood," said 
he firmly. " You are very ill, and 
every moment is precious. Do not 
exhaust your strength in this wild 
way, but try to be calm and tell me 
what you want done. See, I am 
ready." 

" All ready," repeated Rokewood, 



vacantly, sinking back, " all ready. 
Would to Heaven I could say so 
too." 

" I have drawn up a new will,'' 
said Wiverly, in a loud voice — made 
purposely so in order to fix his 
client's attention upon what he was 
saying. " It is all ready for your 
signature, unless you desire to 
change it." 

" No," said Rokewood, feebly, a 
vindictive gleam shooting from his 
sunken eyes, and his crafty face 
more crafty and haggard still. 
" There is to be no change ; the 
.world may change, and the people 
in it, but Rokewood, never." 

" Have you thought of the injus- 
tice you are doing your grandchild 
in making such a will as this one 
is ? " asked Wiverly, sternly. 

Rokewood broke into a feverish 
laugh, a hideous chuckle that told 
plainer than words could have done 
the vindictive character of the man, 
who lay dying there. '' Who dares 
to say 'grandchild' to me?" he 
whispered, fiercely ; " who dares to 
think for one instant that a jail-bird's 
brat should inherit the Rokewood 
millions ? Never, never, never ! " 



12 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY, 



CHAPTER II. 



THE WILL. 



" I know well enough that it is not 
for me to argue this point with you, 
after all these years ; but as a friend, 
Rokewood, tell me truly if what 
you testified to at the time of 
Catherine's trial was the absolute 
truth. I will admit that of late I 
have had my doubts about it, owing 
to certain words you have dropped 
since your illness." 

Again that horrible chuckle. 

" And if you were mistaken — let 
me call it by that gentler name, for 
Heaven's sake — if you were mis- 
taken then, there is yet time for you 
to make restitution, and repair the 
terrible wrong she suffered at your 
hands," said Wiverly, solemnly. 

Rokewood glanced at his lawyer ; 

his lips worked nervously, and his 

thin hands shook like leaves blown 
by a winter's wind. 

" Who talks of mistakes ? " cried 
he, rising upon his elbow and staring 
hard at Wiverly. " What I said 
then I now repeat — she killed him, 
and she shall not escape my venge- 
ance." He laughed an unearthly 
Jpugh that rang throughout the 



room. Wiverly wiped the froth 
from his lips and laid him down 
again. 

"But her child — your son's child — 
is innocent, and the innocent should 
not be made to suffer for the sins of 
the guilty." 

" Bah ! " 

"And that child, if living, is your 
only heir, and at your death should 
take her proper place as the mis- 
tress of Rokewood." 

" Never, never, never ! No 
prison-born creature shall ever pre- 
side over Rokewood — perish the 
thought," screamed the sick man, 
frantically. 

" Where is my will ? Bring it to 
me ; it shall be made now." 

" Let me read it to you, for I 
have already drawn one up accord- 
ing to former instructions, and it is 
all fixed for signing." 

" Give it me. Let me read it 
for myself — perhaps you would 
trick me out of my revenge even 
now ; but you cannot do it." 

The lawyer handed him the 
paper, and turned the lamp so that 
the rays fell full upon it. 

Rokewood grasped the will and 
read aloud slowly, skimming over 
the opening paragraphs until he 
came to the bequests : 



THE WILL. 



13 



" To the State of Virginia I give 
and bequeath all my personal pro- 
perty, with the exception of twenty 
thousand dollars, to be used as 
hereinafter mentioned. 

" The sum of twenty thousand 
dollars is herein set aside to be 
used as a standing reward for the 
arrest and capture of Catherine 
Deane — otherwise known as Cather- 
ine Rokewood — who escaped from 
Wansmore Prison while under sen- 
tence of death for murder, the 
tenth day of September, in the year 
eighteen hundred and sixty " 

" My everlasting curse be upon 
her and hers for ever and ever and 
ever," screamed Rokewood, chok- 
ing with weakness and vindictive 
passion. 

" Bring me the pen, and call 
Marley — quick ! " 

" Control yourself, Rokewood," 
said Wiverly, in a soothing tone. 
" You will kill yourself in one of 
those spasms of rage, if you are not 
more careful. Remember that with 
difficulties of the heart excessive 
emotion is fatal. For Heaven's 
sake, try and be calm." 

Rokewood glared up into the 
speaker's face, and a shudder ran 
over his wasted frame. 

'' Talk not to Rokewood of calm- 



ness," said he, with a gesture of 
scorn, " but hand me the wine, for 
I am growing cold. Pile on more 
wood in the fire place, and call 
Marley ; I want Marley." 

The lawyer threw some pine fag- 
gots on the coals, and touched a 
bell. 

Almost instantly the old servant 
appeared at the bedside. 

" What o'clock is it, Marley ? " 
asked Rokewood in a whisper. 

"Ten, by the clock, sir." 

" And what was it those cursed 
doctors said this morning ? Do 
you remember? Speak." 

'•' They said you could not last 
longer than midnight, sir." 

" They lied, Marley ; they lied 
like dogs.. Hush ! What is that I 
hear again ? Catherine " 

" Oh, my dear master, have you 
done what you promised me you 
would do, when the lawyer came ? " 
cried the poor old servant, sinking 
on his knees by the bedside, tears 
streaming down his wrinkled face. 

" Ay," with a wicked look. 

" And I am absolved from my 
vow at last. Thank Cod — at last." 
Rokewood put out his hand feebly. 

"Marley, give me the pen. Hush 
now ; how dark it seems ! this can- 
not be death, freezing the very 



14 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY. 



marrow in my bones. More wine." 

He drank the wine, and took the 
pen in his trembling fingers. 

" This is my last will and testa- 
ment," he said in a broken whisper. 
" I must sign — sign now. Re- 
member your oath. Marley, your 
oath, man ■ " 

" I am absolved," cried Marley, 
starting up in terror. " Oh, surely 
I may speak the truth for Cather- 
ine, at least ; poor, lost, unhappy 
Catherine ! " 

" Be still— fool ! " gasped Roke- 
wood ; " would you play me false 
now? Catherine shall have her 
just deserts — that much — not more. 
Hear her — that cry — it haunts me, 
even here." 

He started up in bed, and looked 
wildly about him. 

" Hark ! Here she comes. I 
lied a royal lie, in a royal way. 
Eh, Marley ? " He waved his 
arms restlessly from side to side, 
unmindful of the lawyer who stood 
patiently by. 

" They said I swore her life away, 
and I did. Revenge is sweet. 
Marley ! " 

" Here, sir." 

" Let there be more light ; it is 
growing dark here. More — light — 
I-say." 



" Rokewood ! " cried Wiverly, 
placing a pen between the stiffen- 
ing fingers, " Rokewood, sign the 
will." 

The crafty look on the wizened 
face grew deeper and more crafty 
still as the lawyer's words fell upon 
the dying ears. He clutched the 
pen, making a last futile effort to 
write his. name. 

At that moment the wind came 
roaring down through the trees and 
a wail sounded mournfully through 
the room. 

Rokewood shrieked. The pen fell 
from his hand and lay unused upon 
the satin counterpane. Another blast 
from the wind — another shivering 
cry among the murmuring pines. 

Speechless, Rokewood turned his 
fast-glazing eyes upon the lawyer, 
and motioned slightly with his hand 
towards the unsigned will. Another 
moment and he was gone. 

The spirit had flown so quickly 
that it was some time before they 
could realize that he was dead. 

Wiverly felt for the puls,e. It was 
still. 

" Dead ! " he said, solemnly, clos- 
ing the lids down over the sunken 
eyes. 

" Dead ! " repeated Marley, with 
a burst of tears, as he looked long 



THE MISSIKG HEIR. 



'5 



and earnestly at the frail chy tene- 
ment which had so long resisted 
death — the cold and stony image of 
that stern and unyielding master he 
had served so faithfully — " dead, and 
he had sworn that he would not die." 

The lawyer pulled the sheet up 
over the rigid features. 

" It is written of man," said he, 
turning to the servant and speaking 
slowly, " that two things he shall not 
escape from, and one of these is 
death." 



CHAPTER III. 

THE MISSING HEIR. 

Wiverly hurried back to town. He 
was the senior member of the great 
law firm of "Wiverly & Wopping — 
a firm that had done business in a 
certain city that shall be nameless 
here. 

For thirty years these gentlemen 
had had the management of the great 
Rokewood estate. And now that 
the master of that vast property had 
gone where riches and wealth availeth 
not Mr. Wiverly thought it incum- 
bent upon the firm to pay all due 



tribute to the memory and the station 
of the deceased. 

There were no mourners fur Roke- 
wood. He had been too proud and 
overbearing to make a sincere friend. 
His temper had been too hot and his 
disposition too revengeful for any 
one ever to have loved him well 
enough to shed a tear for him in 
death. 

Four generations in succession an 
only son had succeeded to the broad 
acres called Rokewood. Like all 
the men of his race, the dead man 
had married young ; like them, too, 
while yet a young man, he had buried 
his wife in the vaults of Rokewood 
Chapel, where lay the dead-and-gone 
generations of his powerful house, 
where later on he had stood and 
looked his last farewell at his own 
dead son, the last male heir of the 
line ; where he now claimed for 
himself the everlasting darkness and 
silence of the tomb. 

Earth to earth and dust to dust. 
Mr. Wiverly could not help but feel 
the responsibility of his position as 
he journeyed back to the town. 

Rokewood had died without sign- 
ing his will, and the vast estate, the 
pride of the whole countryside, was 
literally begging an heir. 

There was an heir to Rokewood — 



15 



THE ROREWOOD TRAGEDY 



a puny girl, born nineteen years be- 
fore in Wansmore jail. 

Mr. Wiverly would have given his 
good right hand if at that moment 
he could have laid it upon that 
missing girl and brought her forward 
as the mistress of Rokewood. Much 
as Rokewood had meant to defraud 
her from having her just rights, 
strong as his intention had been to 
put his wealth away from any claim 
she might make upon it, his object 
had been defeated by death. What- 
ever the form he had meant his 
vengeance to assume after he had 
bidden farewell to earth was frus- 
trated now by that unsigned will. 

The will being void, the law would 
take its natural course, and that 
course would be to place the estate 
in the power and possession of the 
lawful heir. 

The only thing that worried the 
attorney was the whereabouts of 
that heir. 

" It is a beautiful restitution," he 
mused ; " a beautiful restitution. 
Catherine Deane's poor, despised 
child now inherits one of the most 
princely fortunes in the country. It 
is enough to make Rokewood turn 
over in his coffin ; but she shall 
have her rights. She shall have her 
rights ! " he repeated firmly, " and 



she shall be produced, if we have 
to move every man, woman, and 
child on the American continent to 
bring it about." 

It was late when Mr. Wiverly re- 
turned to town, but he was used to 
late hours, and, besides, there was 
much to be done. 

He went immediately to the 
undertaker's and ordered him to go 
to Rokewood at once and make the 
necessary arrangements for the 
funeral of its late master. 

Then he went to his own snug 
office, where he sat down and tried 
to form some plan for immediate 
action. His partner was long since 
in bed, and Mr. W T iverly could 
hear certain nasal strains issuing 
from the sacred precincts of his 
partner's place of retirement which 
proclaimed his condition plainly 
enough. 

" Wopping's asleep, as usual," 
muttered Wiverly, " but I'll call 
him, anyway." 

He rose hastity, and knocked at 
a door near him. 

The firm of Wiverly & Wopping 
occupied lodgings contiguous to 
their office. They were both elderly 
bachelors, noted for their personal 
integrity and fidelity to business. 

Their place of business and sleep- 



Till-. MISSING 11 FIR. 



17 



ing apartments were on the second 
floor of a great brick structure that 
had been originally built for mer- 
cantile purposes ; but long and long 
ago, as the city had grown larger 
and its people more fashionable, the 
stores and shops had moved one by 
one into grander quarters, and the 
old "brick" had been gradually 
transformed into offices and lodg- 
ings, and finally given over wholly 
to that vast army of lawyers, and 
doctors, and clerks, and artists, and 
printers — that great brainml, busy 
class — which constitutes the world 
of Bohemia. Wiverly knocked 
lightly on the door; " Wopping," 
said he, softly, " get up." 

" Don't bother me," returned a 
sleepy voice, " but do go away. I 
shan't be able to catch the forty 
winks nature requires if you insist 
on knocking like that." 

By way of answer 'Wiverly pushed 
open the door and sat upon the 
bed. " I have just returned from 
Rokewood," said he, with meaning 
emphasis. 

Wopping started up. " Well ? " 

" He is dead ! " 

" You don't say so ? " 

" He died while I was there." 

" He signed the will, of course." 

" No." 



Mr. Wopping was very wide awake 
now. 

" You knew that I had drawn a 
new will for him ? " 

" Oh, yes." 

" He died before he could write 
his name to the bottom of it." 

" And that great property " 

" As a natural result, that pro- 
perty now reverts to the one who 
rightfully should have it — that poor 
child." 

Mr. Wopping got out of bed and 
began to pull on his clothes. "Yes," 
assented he, " to that poor child ; 
though there might as well not be a 
poor child in the case, for all that 
we know of her, or her whereabouts. 
She may be dead for anything we 
know to the contrary." 

" I don't think she is dead," said 
Wiverly. " I tell you that I believe 
in God, and God's justice is such 
that sooner or later that child will 
be restored to her heritage." 

Mr. Wopping jammed first one 
fat foot into a slipper and then the 
other. 

" Too many years have gone by 
since her disappearance for us to 
hope of finding her now. In my 
opinion we don't stand the ghost of 
a show for bringing her forward at 
this late day. It is the eleventh 



the roice wood tragedy. 



hour, as it were ; besides, think how 
many experts have failed in their 
efforts to trace her. I tell you there 
is nothing but failure for us." 

" We won't argue that point, for 
I realize the difficulties of the situa- 
tion — none more so. Come out 
into the office while I tell you of the 
new plan I have studied up." 

Wopping did so. 

" In the first place," said Wiverly, 
sitting down with his feet on the 
fender, where a small fire was burn- 
ing cheerily, '•' the reward which 
Rokewood has kept standing all 
these years for the capture of his 
daughter-in-law is to be doubled. 
This is at his own dictation, mind 
you, and is a stipulation in his last 
will." 

" But if he did not sign that 
document it is worth less than the 
paper it is written upon." 

" I am aware of that fact." 

« Well ? " 

" I purpose complying with the 
directions in regard to the reward. 
But I also purpose that hand in 
hand with that additional reward 
shall go the announcement of Roke- 
wood's death " 

" Very good, so far ! " 

— " coupled with a demand that 
the child — the heiress to Rokewood 



— shall now come forward and claim 
her rightful inheritance." 

Wopping laughed. 

" You're a droll one, you are," 
said he. " Do you expect to catch 
Catherine through her maternal 
anxiety to establish her daughter's 
pecuniary interests on their proper 
basis ? Fie, your innocence is 
amusing. What woman with a price 
upon her life would put in a claim 
to property for her child, though 
that property were twice the value 
of Rokewood ? Here is her 
own inheritance lying idle and ac- 
cumulating year after year because 
she dare not claim it without peril- 
ling her liberty and her life." 

" In the second place," went on 
Wiverly, nothing daunted by his part- 
ner's unfavourable criticism, " I 
don't believe that Catherine is guilty 
of the murder of her husband. On 
his death-bed Rokewood dropped 
words which created the doubt in 
my mind — though I always believed 
that if she did kill him it was acci- 
dentally done, and not intentionally, 
as Rokewood testified at the time 
of her trial." 

" Now, then, you've hit it. If we 
could find some means by which we 
might establish her innocence and 
get a pardon for her we might then 



THE MISSING HEIR. 



J 9 



stand a show to find the child. But, 
so long as Catherine is under sen- 
tence of death, she will keep out of 
the law." 

" In the third place," said Wiverly, 
with marked emphasis, "I have 
made up my mind to bring a cele- 
brated detective from the North, 
and put him on the trail. If there 
is a secret hidden away there in 
Rokewood's dead bosom depend 
upon it that his old servant knows 
it ; but he is bound not to divulge 
it without Rokewood's consent, and 
that is now impossible. A skilled 
detective will soon get at the bottom 
facts. I have thought of telegraph- 
ing for one at once." 

" We have already exhausted the 
skill of the best detectives, and what 
did it all amount to ? " said Wop- 
ping. 

" But as managers of that great 
and valuable property we must do 
something towards finding the legal 
heir." 

" That is true." 

"And the man I speak of has 
certainly done some remarkable 
feats in detective work. We can 



let him try the case, surely, and find 
out what he can do." 

"Yes," returned Wopping, with a 
sigh, " he can do no more than fail, 
as all the others have done before 
him." 

" I don't believe he will fail," said 
Wiverly, stoutly. 

" What is the name of this man 
you speak of—and where is his 
home ? " 

" His home is in Chicago, and 
his name is Captain William 
Turtle." 

" Never heard of him," said Wop- 
ping, indifferently; "but send the 
dispatch, and when you send it men- 
tion the reward. It may have a 
stimulating effect upon his detective 
powers. Such things do some- 
times." 

Wiverly wrote hastily, and tear- 
ing off the sheet he picked up his 
hat. 

" I'll send it to-night," he said ; 
" the sooner the better, and as I 
shan't be back for some time, 
perhaps, you had better not 
sit up for me, but go to bed 
again." 



20 



THE R0KEW00D TRAGEDY 



CHAPTER IV. 



THE NOBODY. 



However, Mr. Wopping did not 
act immediately upon his friend's 
perfectly disinterested advice and 
go to bed. Instead, he sat down 
before the cheerful little fire that 
burned- up brightly and clearly in 
the polished steel grate, with his 
slippered feet resting comfortably 
on the shining fender and his 
thoughts travelling into the bygone 
past. 

As he sat dreaming by the fire 
by degrees he became conscious of 
the slow and shuffling motions of 
a pair of feet in the room above 
him. Forward and backward, back- 
ward and forward, went the feet, 
never faster, never slower. Just 
how long this motion had been 
going on before it attracted Mr. 
Wopping's attention he could not 
have told, though it must have 
been for some time. 

" Poor Bane," said Wopping, 
with a sigh. " He must be worse 
to-night. Ill, and poor, and 
friendless, he is indeed to be 
pitied." 

Walk, walk, walk. 



The incessant shuffling over the 
floor was becoming unbearable. 

Wopping seized a walking-stick 
and gave three distinct raps on the 
ceiling. 

The raps were answered. Evi- 
dently a code had been established 
by which the raps were intelligible 
to the occupant of the sky-parlour. 
Wopping struck the ceiling again, 
lightly this time. 

The steps ceased, then began 
again. A door opened, closed, and 
somebody passed out into the pas- 
sage. Mr. Wopping's quick ear 
detected the sound. He smiled, 
rose quickly, and placed a fat-bellied 
copper kettle on the hob. 

The feet were now descending 
the staircase, evidently pausing 
now and then as a fit of coughing 
shook the person. 

Mr. Wopping shook his old head 
knowingly ai the shuffling steps 
sounded nearer his own door. 

He whisked out some tumblers 
and a paper of white sugar from a 
mysterious drawer in the green- 
baize-covered table. Then b'g 
yellow lemons in delicate folds of 
tissue paper were next placed by 
the side of the sugar. A suspicious- 
looking bottle filled with a clear, 
amber-hued fluid, that reminded one 



THE NOBODY 



of brandy more than anything else, 
he held in his hand as the door 
opened and an attenuated figure 
shambled into the cozy rooms. 

" By the Lord Harry ! " cried Mr. 
Wopping, cheerily, " I was so tired 
of sitting here alone that, when I 
heard your footsteps overhead there, 
I determined to call you down, and 
make you stay until Wiverly re- 
turns." 

" Don't seek to disguise your 
kindness to me in that way," said 
the Nobody, in a trembling voice. 
" I'm afraid my coughing annoys 
you. It annoys me often enough." 

" Take a seat and be comfort- 
able," said Mr. Wopping, hospitably. 
" I'll fix up a ' night-cap ' for you 
that will make you sleep and dream 
that you are in heaven." 

" Oh ! that I might not only 
dream it but awake to find it true." 

" Tush ! never say die," cried 
Wopping, blithely. 

The new-comer sat down and 
spread his thin hands to the blaze. 

His frail figure was lost in the 
loose folds of the ill-fitting garments 
that enveloped it, and a few thin 
locks of reddish hair strayed out 
from under the broad rim of his 
felt hat. 

A pair of glasses concealed his 



eyes, and a straggling beard, well 
streaked with grey, streamed down 
over his waistcoat. He looked 
what he was, old and ill, and very 
poor. 

"Haven't I told >ou," said Mr. 
Wopping, half playfully, half- se- 
verely, " that you are not to 
go tramping up and down your 
room all night long? Why, man, 
you ought to be in bed, and get all 
the sleep you can. Your disease is 
such that late hours serve only to 
help it along." 

" Let it do its very worst," said 
Bane, indifferently. " I have told 
you, these ten years, that life is a 
burden to me, and I say it again. 
Let death come. The sooner it 
comes the better for me." 

" You are despondent," said 
Wopping, as he lifted the flat- 
bellied copper teakettle from the 
hob. "Now, I'll be bound that 
you haven't eaten a mouthful during 
the kit four-and-twenty hours. I 
have noticed that, when your rest- 
less spells come on, you don't stop 
tramping long enough to eat so 
much as it would take to keep a fly 
alive, let alone a man." 

"No," returned Bane, with a sickly 
smile. " Sometimes I think but for 
your friendly exertions on my behalf 



22 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY. 



I never would swallow another 
mouthful of anything. Accept the 
fact that I do eat to please you as 
an acknowledgment from me that 
your kindness is not entirely lost, 
even when expended upon a no- 
body like Matthew Bane." 

Mr. Wopping was rolling the 
lemons briskly on his knee. He 
suddenly pushed aside the papers 
that littered the table, and squeez- 
ing the juice of the lemons into the 
glasses, poured in a little of the 
brandy, added some lumps of the 
sugar, and filled the tumblers up 
with hot water. From some place 
only known to himself he brought 
forth some meat and bread and a 
bit of cheese. 

" Now, Matthew," said he, with 
a hearty good-humour, " sit up here 
by the table with me, and put your- 
self outside of a glassful of this 
mixture. It isn't strong, man. I 
remember your peculiar aversion to 
strong liquors. It is only lemon 
and water, with a dash of brandy in 
it. I got the formula from a cele- 
brated physician, who declared there 
was nothing equal to it, in its own 
particular way, and I believe him." 

Bane drew up his chair, and 
sipped slowly from the glass of 
steaming liquid Woppinghad pushed 



towards him. His manner was shy 
and repellent. 

" Are you busy nowadays ? " 
asked Wopping, filling up his own 
glass again. 

" Not particularly," answered 
Bane, shrinking down nearer the 
fire ; " I wish I were." 

" We shall have some copying for 
you to-morrow, if you feel well 
enough to do it." 

" I shall be only too glad to get 
it," said Bane, eagerly, "and, though 
my health is wretched, I am far 
happier when busy with some light 
employment." 

" Have you no friends, Matthew, 
with whom you might spend the re- 
mainder of your days in peace and 
comfoit ? Pardon me if I again 
touch upon what seems to be a 
painful topic to you. But your ill- 
health and loneliness must be my 
excuse. You seem to be so utterly 
alone in the world that my heart 
aches for you." 

" I have no friend save yourself, 
sir," said the Nobody, faintly, " and 
deem me not unthankful if I say 
that I desire none. Let me live 
alone and die alone, as I must — 
and wish to." 

He shrank away from the table, 
and sat, a heap of shivering, shabby 



THE NOBODY 



43 



garments, in the shadowy corner 
near the fire. 

Mr. Wopping sighed. 

If anybody had asked him — and 
no one ever had asked him — to ex- 
plain his reasons for taking such an 
interest in the poor outcast the 
kind-hearted lawyer could not have 
given one. Mr. Wopping was a 
philanthropist in the broadest sense, 
and it was enough for him to know 
that here was a fellow-being who 
needed his care and attention. 

The lawyer had begun the ac- 
quaintance himself, and made the 
first overtures towards a friendship 
which was apparently but a one- 
sided friendship after all. 

The outcast never unbent, never 
relaxed from the cold, repellent 
manner that had characterized him 
from the beginning. 

But the lawyer did not despair. 

" If the warm rays of the sun of 
human kindness and brotherly love 
can thaw out the frozen springs of 
that cold and frigid nature he shall 
feel their influence," Wopping often 
said. And it was upon this principle 
that he continued his kindly efforts. 

" You spoke of copying," said 
Bane presently, from his shadowy 
corner. " Is it work that I can do 
in my own room ? " It was a singu- 



larity of his that he preferred dark- 
ness to light, and that, no matter 
what the occasion that called him 
into the lawyer's snug office, he 
immediately shrunk away into some 
shadowy corner and there shivered 
and trembled until it was time to 
take his departure. 

" I think not," returned Wopping. 
" What we want done is the copying 
of certain documents pertaining to 
the estate of the late Mr. Rokewood, 
and it will have to be done here." 

" The late Mr. Rokewood ? Am 
I to understand he is dead ? " 

The Nobody's frail hand trembled 
visibly as he reached out from his 
shadowy retreat and set the tumbler 
upon the baize-covered table. 

" He is dead. He died to-night, 
at about ten o'clock. My partner 
has just returned from there." 

The Nobody's head had dropped 
forward upon his breast, he shook 
from head to heel, as if with some 
strong, repressed emotion. 

" He died without signing his 
will, so that the great Rokewood 
estate will now fall to that grand- 
child of his — if we can find her. It's 
a mighty pretty property for a young 
lady to inherit." 

The Nobody rose suddenly, and 
shuffled towards the door. 



24 



THE- ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY 



" Yes," he muttered, " a pretty 
property ; but, to my way of think- 
ing, it comes too late no*w." 

" That's as may be," returned 
Wopping, cheerfully. " As managers 
of the Rokewood millions we must 
look her up, anyhow, and see whether 
she will say it comes too late or net. 
My impression is that she will be 
glad to get it." 

" Don't, don't ! " cried the out- 
cast, catching the lawyer's hand and 
speaking with visible emotion. " For 
God's sake, don't attempt it ! " 

" It is our duty." 

" Duty ! " muttered Bane, sud- 
denly dropping the hand he had 
caught up, and shuffling out into the 
passage. " You talk of duty, and, 
God forgive me, Mr. Wopping, I had 
thought you to be a kind-hearted 
man." 

Mr. Wopping stared in speechless 
surprise at the retreating figure. And 
well he might. It was the first, the 
only time he had seen emotion of 
any sort manifested by Matthew 
Bane. 



CHAPTER V. 

A PEDIGREE WANTED. 

The ensuing morning, as Mr. Wop- 
ping sat in his office busy with some 
reports he was trying to make out, 
there came a sharp succession of 
raps on his office door. 

Mr. Wcpping was not in quite his 
usual good humour, and did not 
relish the interruption at that mo- 
ment. He knew the raps were made 
by a certain young friend of his, the 
son of a prominent and wealthy 
banker, whom he had trotted on 
his knees in his infancy, and in- 
dulged and spoiled in his maturer 
years. Frank, and bright, and 
jovial, Teddy Bellew had ever found 
a warm and sincere friend in the 
person of the genial attorney. Still, 
though Mr. Wopping loved Teddy 
as he might have loved his own son, 
if he had ever had one, there were 
times when Teddy's absence was 
preferable to his company. And 
this happened to be one of the 
times. 

" Old Popsie-Wopsie," called a 
fresh young voice, " are you in 
there ? Because if you are there 
I must see you — willy-nilly." 



A PEDIGREE WANTED. 



Wopping reluctantly opened the 
door. 

" Come in, if you really must," 
said he, a trifle crossly ; " but don't 
stand there hammering away. You 
attract a great deal of unnecessary 
attention, and besides might split 
the door panels and set the house 
agent after me." 

" To the dogs with the panels, 
and the house agent too, for that 
matter," retorted a tall, blonde 
young man, who marched into the 
apartment and sat himself down in 
the attorney's choicest chair. 

He was apparently about twenty- 
six years old, with dark eves and 
fair hair, which was carelessly 
brushed up from a wide forehead. 
A drooping, tawny moustache hid 
his mouth, and there was an easy 
grace in his motion which told that 
he was a spoiled child of fortune. 

"I'll tell you what, old Popsie- 
Wopsie," began Bellew, somewhat 
irreverently. 

" See here, Teddy," interrupted 
Mr. Wopping, "don't 'Popsie-Wop- 
sie ' me any more, if you please. 
What must people think who hear 
you sing out like that at my door?" 
Inasmuch as it was Mr. Wopping 
himself who had, in the old knee- 
trotting times, taught % voung Bellew 



the Popsie-Wopsie epithet, this 
censure was a trifle severe, to say 
the least. 

Bellew glanced comically at his 
companion's disturbed countenance. 

" And is it mad, and does it vex 
its little soul about such things as 
names ? And don't it know that 
' by any other name a rose would 
smell as sweet,' etc. ? " 

" Teddy, if you have anything of 
importance to say, out with it. I'm 
very busy now, and ought not lose 
a moment's time. My dear boy, 
I've always had to labour for my 
money, and always expect to. The 
firm of Wiverly & Wopping hasn't 
a rich old father to run to when the 
funds run low. And you have." 

" Yes — more's the pity." 

" And money is a necessary 
article." 

" In its way — yes," assented 
Teddy. 

"So, if you have any business 
with me, make it known at once, 
and be done with it." 

" Well, then," began Teddy, sub- 
missively, " you know Pollie ? " 

" You mean that I know of her," 
interrupted Wopping. 

"All the same, old dad," said 
Bellew, with an airy wave of his 
white hand; "but you can't deny 



26 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY. 



knowing how long and devotedly 
I have loved her." 

"And made a mooning idiot of 
yourself by so doing," broke in 
Wopping, impatiently. There his 
reports lay, waiting to be made out 
and corrected, and here was a love- 
sick young fellow taking up valuable 
time in recounting his affai7-es de 
cmur. Wopping was really angry. 
Bellew was a particular friend ; but, 
then, even very particular and dear 
friends should use some discretion 
in timing their visits and their con- 
fidences, and Bellew was pro- 
vokingly indifferent to everything 
save what concerned himself. 

" But you don't know," went on 
that presumptuous boy, with irritat- 
ing calmness, "that I took advan- 
tage of an opportunity this morning, 
and asked her to be Mrs. Bellew, 
Jr." 

" It can't be." 

"That is just what she said too." 

" Teddy, stop bantering and state 
the case, if you expect any help 
from me," said Wopping, testily. 

" I've been stating it ever since I 
came into your blamed old room," 
retorted Bellew, with some warmth, 
" and what sort of satisfaction do I 
get for my trouble ? " 

Wopping sat down resignedly in 



his big chair, and lit his pipe. 
" Now, Bellew," said he, " begin at 
the first of the story — page one, 
you know, and tell it in a connected 
manner. You are an unmitigated 
nuisance, and the only remedy 
there is for me is to give you a 
hearing at your own convenience." 

" So kind of you," said Bellew, 
with an airy wave of his white hand ; 
"and here it is in a nutshell. I 
spent the night with Dane — he's a 
chum of mine, you know, and just 
up from the fever. On my way 
home this morning, and having to 
pass Miss Wardlaw's residence — 
don't laugh " — as Wopping's lip 
curled in a sarcastic smile. " It 
was about nine o'clock — awfully 
early, wasn't it ? Perhaps it might 
have been a trifle later by Colum- 
bus time — to be exact." 

" Never mind the time," growled 
the lawyer ; " it is enough to know 
that you began at an exceptionally 
early hour in the day to make an 
ass of yourself. But as there is no 
accounting for tastes, just try to 
confine your narrative to the main 
points, and come to a conclusion 
as soon as possible." 

"Yes," said Teddy, humbly. 
" Dane has lodgings on — it don't 
matter where. You know he is as 



A PEDIGREE WANTED. 



poor as a church mouse, since the 
failure on Wall Street last spring. 
Money goes sailing to the ' demni- 
tion bow-wows ' when the banks 
burst, don't it ? Well, as I was say- 
ing, I had spent the night with 
Dane, and was coming home bright 
and early, when I happened to walk 
past Pollie's residence just to — a — 
take sort of look at her window, or 
something of that kind, when who 
should I see on the doorsteps but 
Pollie herself? Of course I stopped, 
and she looked so distractingly 
pretty that before I fairly realized 
what I was about I had asked her 
to be Mrs. Bellew, Jr. Ton my 
soul ! I couldn't help it. Pollie is 
so awfully pretty — and the worst of 
it — or perhaps the best of it, is that 
she is just as beautiful at six o'clock 
in the morning as she ever can be 
at fifteen o'clock at night ; and it 
wasn't two minutes after she had 
smiled and said ' Good-morning, Mr. 
Bellew,' that I had laid my heart 
and hand and all the rest of my 
anatomy at her feet — metaphori- 
cally speaking, of course " 

" Never mind the metaphors," 
said Wopping. " Of course she 
jumped at the chance?" 

" Not that I know of," said Teddy, 
dryly. 



" She did not refuse you?" Wop- 
ping stared in surprise at his young 
friend. 

" Flatly." 

" Did you tell her that you are a 
rich man's son ? " 

" She knew that long ago." 

" Well, I must say that she is as 
big a young fool as you are. It 
isn't every girl who would let such 
a prize escape her. You are to be 
congratulated, Teddy ; for I sup- 
posed that a fellow with your pros- 
pects would be snapped up in short 
order, particularly by designing 
young women who seem to want to 
better their social position in life." 

" That shows that you do not 
know women so well as you think 
you do — especially girls like my 
Pollie," said Bellew, loftily. 

" Perhaps she is in love with an- 
other fellow." 

" If I thought that," began Bellew, 
gnashing his teeth. " If I thought 
that " 

" Oh, you would live through it. 
' Men have died and worms have 
eaten them— but not for love ; ' re- 
member that, Teddy. It would be 
all the same to you in a hundred 
years from now. Such things are, 
and have been, and always will be," 
said Wopping, with irritating calm- 



2§ 



THE RdKEWOOD TRAGEDY 



ness. " If I remember right, such 
an affair occurred to your humble 
servant once, and he lived through 
it. Try your chances in some other 
direction, and you will probably 
meet with better success." 

" You are all wrong in your sur- 
mises," said Teddy, hurriedly. "The 
trouble is not that Pollie cares for 
anybody else. She owned up that 
she loves me, and at the same time 
she refuses to be my wife. It seems 
that some time ago my father heard 
somehow — blast the gossips — that 
his hopeful son was paying a trifle 
too close attention to a pretty 
pianiste, and what does he do but 
rush off and hunt Miss Wardlaw 
up ; and after he finds her, pours 
into her ears a mess of stuff to the 
effect that she is not at all the sort 
of young lady he can or will receive 
as his future daughter-in-law. To 
clinch the matter, he winds up the 
business by threatening me with dis- 
inheritance if I persist and marry 
her ; this threat of father's has the 
effect of making Pollie refuse me. 
Now, I just want to ask, Mr. Wop- 
ping, if this isn't a pretty style of 
parent for a young man to have ? I 
tell you that I'm getting about dis- 
gusted, and almost wish I had not 
been born a Bellew in the first place." 



" And how does Miss Wardlaw's 
relatives take the matter ? " 

" There's the rub again," Bellew 
went on, in an injured tone. " As 
if a man need to care about his 
wife's relatives. Polly really has no 
family at all, and not a solitary an- 
cestor that she knows of. It strikes 
me that the lucky man who wins a 
girl situated like Pollie is — in the 
matter of relatives and ancestors — 
should be congratulated, particularly 
when he considers the fact that 
mother-in-law-ism will be impossible. 
By Jove ! I've often heard father 
going off into spasms of rage over 
his own mother-in-law — at such 
times, of course, as the dear old 
girl could not hear him. But if 
you'll believe me, in spite of his ex- 
perience, he now professes to think 
that the lack of a mother-in-law in 
my matrimonial economy would 
smack of something disreputable. 
There's no getting on with some 
men nowadays — particularly the 
fathers. You can see for yourself 
now how the want of money and 
lack of a family tree as long as the 
moral law ruins Pollie's prospects 
with my father, and closes his doors 
against her as effectually as if she 
did not exist at all." 

" But I don't see that you can 



.■/ BEAUTIFUL NOBODY 



it) 



change things unless you marry her, 
any way, and take the risk of being 
forgiven afterwards." 

" I'd do that in a minute," cried 
Bellew, striking the table with his 
fist. " But Pollie won't. She says 
she never, never will be my wife 
until father gives his consent ; and, 
unless Pollie comes into a big for- 
tune, or finds some ancestors who 
came over in the Mayflower, he'll 
never say yes. So, in this dilemma 
I've come to you, Wopping, for 
you're the best friend a fellow ever 
had ; and I want you to go to work 
and find Pollie a pedigree. Now, 
then ! " 

"Wopping burst out laughing. 

"Pedigrees are not in my line; 
but you can buy 'em, I've been 
told." 

" You don't understand me," said 
Bellew, impatiently. " Pollie must 
have some relatives found for her ; 
it's a case of necessity, and they've 
got to come somehow. Let me 
bring her to see you, or, what is 
better, go with me to see her home, 
and listen to the story of her first 
recollections. She belonged to a 
play-actor in her infancy, she thinks, 
for she remembers bits of things 
that would necessarily belong about 
play-acting people." 



CHAPTER VI. 

A BEAUTIFUL NOBODY. 

Wopping picked up his hat. 

" If I go at all, on what I know 
beforehand will be a wild-goose 
chase, I must go now," said he. 
" And in return for this act of kind- 
ness on my part you must stay 
away from my room for the next 
three days." 

"•I'll do anything you like, old 
dad, if you'll only find some one 
Pollie may lay a claim of kinship to. 
I'm sure, Wopping, that, with all 
your skill and experience in ferret- 
ing out mysterious cases, you are 
certain to be of some help to us. 
Not that I care a silver rupee — 
that's forty-six cents' worth to be 
exact — who her father was, or her 
mother either, but she has some 
nonsensical ideas about it, since my 
father talked to her, that I can 
neither explain away nor over- 
come." 

" Supposing that we should really 
find her people, and they were any- 
thing but reputable?" 

" In that case," said Bellew, firmly, 
" we would give her to understand 
that she was alone in the world, and 



3« 



THE R0KEW00D TRAGEDY 



you would fix up a spurious descent 
for her from some old family now 
supposed to be extinct. Pollie's 
prejudices would then be overcome, 
father's objections would disappear, 
and I would be enabled to marry 
the girl of my choice. Don't you 
see ? " 

" Plainly." 

"And, Wopping," hesitated Bel- 
lew, putting his hands on his friend's 
shoulder, " whether we find any re- 
latives for her or not — and I almost 
hope we won't — you are to keep the 
main fact in your mind that I don't 
care a brass button whether she has 
one parent or a hundred thousand, 
so she consents to name an early 
day for the wedding. You are sure 
you understand now ? " 

" Oh, it's all clear to my mind, 
Teddy. And it strikes me forcibly 
that you are one of the most con- 
summate young fools I ever had the 
pleasure of knowing. But tell me, 
as we walk along, how you came to 
make the lady's acquaintance, for it 
seems queer to me that a fellow of 
your sort should go outside of his 
Own circle in society to pick himself 
a wife." 

" It is easily enough done," re- 
turned Bellew, calmly, " and not to 
be wondered at either, when you 



know that it is considered the 
correct thing now to hire lady pian- 
ists to play at our swell entertain- 
ments, and that only beautiful and 
accomplished ladies are in demand. 
I first saw Pollie at M.'s," mention- 
ing a rich and aristocratic family 
residing in the most fashionable 
suburb of the city. " I was a goner 
from the moment I placed my eyes 
on her, and, although it is against 
all rules, little Allie M. introduced 
me to her. I've no doubt but Allie 
got a lecture for it ; her adorable 
mamma witnessed the scene, and 
poor Pollie never was sent for again 
to play at that place. But I didn't 
know where she lived, and, what 
was worse, none of my friends 
would tell me, for it seems that 
they had all noticed what they were 
pleased to call my infatuation for a 
music-teacher ; so there I was, all 
broke up, as I may say, and no 
remedy at hand, when, as luck 
would have it, I met Bob Dane one 
day, and insisted upon going home 
with him and having a time for old 
acquaintance sake. He lives in 
lodgings now since his money went 
kiting in Wall Street, and they are 
not the best of the kind either, 
though in a respectable part of the 
city. When I took my departure 



A BEAUTIFUL NOBODY 



3i 



/hat night, which was at a rather 
late hour, it must be confessed, who 
should I see letting herself in at the 
house opposite with a night-key but 
Pollie. She had been playing at 
some fashionable entertainment, and 
had just got home. I did not speak 
to her then, but I actually trembled 
with delight to think I had dis- 
covered her. After that I hung 
about the place a great deal, and I 
know Bob thought I was the most 
attentive friend he had, for he said 
I was at his room so much that he 
did not get a chance to take his 
daily promenade. Still, I somehow 
happened to miss Pollie in some 
unaccountable fashion until one 
night three months after. I had 
been to see Bob, as usual, when 
what should I hear but a terrific 
screech, and, running in the direc- 
tion from whence the sound proceed- 
ed, I found a young girl struggling 
in the grasp of a couple of ruffians. 
" To knock the fellows down did 
not take me two seconds hardly, 
but that was no sooner done than 
the young lady fainted dead away, 
and then I discovered that it was 
Pollie herself. Well, when she 
came to, which she did presently, 
she could do no less than ask me 
into the house." 



" And it wasn't necessary for you 
to be urged to do so, I suppose? " 
said Wopping. 

"' Indeed no," said Bellew, in- 
genuously ; " that was the very 
thing I had been wanting to do for 
months, and I wasn't the one to re- 
fuse it, now the opportunity was at 
hand. From that night I've been 
going regularly to see Pollie, and 
but for my father's untimely inter- 
ference we would have been safely 
married in less than four weeks 
more. Beastly shame, isn't it ? " 

" So it seems," returned Wopping 
sarcastically, as they at last turned 
into a quiet side street, and Bellew 
rang the bell at a plain brick resi- 
dence standing a little removed 
from the narrow thoroughfare. 

They were conducted into a small 
parlour, and a moment later a pretty 
girl entered the apartment. 

Wopping knew this girl must be 
the veritable Pollie by the lovely 
blush that reddened her forehead as 
she saw Bellew, and even to the 
lawyer's prejudiced eyes she did 
credit to his friend's taste. 

"Miss Wardlaw, I have fetched an 
old friend of mine and my father's 
to make your acquaintance," cried 
Bellew, presenting the lawyer. " Mr, 
Wopping, this is Miss Wardlaw." 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY 



The attorney gallantly took the 
slim hand Miss Pollie extended to 
him, wondering vaguely who it was 
she so strongly reminded him of. 

" And, Pollie," pursued the in- 
corrigible Teddy, " he is one of the 
best lawyers in these whole United 
States, and he has promised to hear 
your story, and to help us if he 
can." 

" There is very little to tell you," 
said she, turning to the attorney ; 
" very little indeed, and I am sure 
that little is of no importance what- 
ever, either to myself or anybody 
else." 

Her voice was soft and low ; in- 
voluntarily Wopping bent his head 
to listen. 

" Let me decide what its worth 
may be," said he, quietly, still won- 
dering where it was that he had 
seen some one like her, and puzzling 
his brain over the vague resem- 
blance. " Tell me your story first." 

" Of course Teddy," with a glance 
at that infatuated young man, " has 
told you that I have no knowledge 
of my right name, or of the place 
and date of my birth. My first 
recollections are of being with a 
company of horse-riders, and of 
riding, all tricked out in gauze and 
silver spangles, in a two-wheeled 



vehicle, behind a string of little 
ponies, and people laughed and 
clapped their hands and gave me 
bon-bons to eat. It seems to me as 
if I rode behind those ponies for 
years and years ; but of course that 
could not have been, for Auntie 
Wardlaw said I certainly could not 
have been more than four years old 
when she took me in and cared for 
me. 

" It was during the last year of 
the war that I came to her. There 
had been a great battle fought near 
a town about ten miles away, and 
the victorious troops of the North- 
ern army were in close pursuit of 
the flying foe, when they made a 
brief halt in Miss Wardlaw's mea- 
dows, and a soldier riding up to her 
house asked her if she would take 
and care for a little child they had 
found on the way. She assented, 
and he lifted me down from his 
saddle and left me, sick and uncon- 
scious, to her care. 

" Nobody ever claimed me, or in- 
quired for me, and auntie — I call 
her so, because she became fond of 
me and wished me to do so — 
determined to adopt me for her 
own. She was a spinster, and very 
rich, and as I grew to womanhood 
I had every advantage that money 



A BEAUTIFUL NOBODY. 



33 



could procure me. Auntie always 
assured me that she would make me 
her heir, but she died — was killed 
in a railway accident — before her 
will was made. Her brother and 
sister inherited everything that was 
hers — and so I came up here to 
make a living by the help of the 
education she gave me." 

" And that is all ? " said Wopping, 
with evident disappointment. 

" Yes. As I told you in the first 
place, there is little enough to tell," 
she said, smiling faintly. 

" And you haven't even the con- 
ventional strawberry mark, or a 
convenient mole by which you might 
be identified? " 

" Absolutely nothing," the smile 
dying out entirely now. " I am 
afraid that I am a nobody, and will 
have to remain so." 

" You were ill when Miss Ward- 
law took you in charge?" 

" Yery. It was weeks before I 
could sit up, and when I did my 
memory was dulled so that the com- 
monest things I should have known 
were like dreams. I could only tell 
her that my name was Pollie, and 
that I had ridden horses. And, as 
if to support the theory that Miss 
Wardlaw entertained that I belonged 
to some circus company, the few 



poor rags I had on were covered 
with silver spangles and tawdry 
ornaments of that sort. There was 
one thing, however, which I always 
hoped would lead to my identifica- 
tion, and that was a peculiar orna- 
ment which was attached to a gold 
chain about my neck, and which I 
never remember to have been with- 
out." 

"Will you let me look at thst 
chain and ornament you speak of ? 
There may be something about it 
that will give us a clue." 

Pollie brought the chain. It was 
.a slender gold one, such as people 
put around the necks of little chil- 
dren. A filbert-shaped ornament 
of gold, on one side of which was a 
partly obliterated monogram, was 
attached to it. 

Wopping studied the monogram 
closely. He could make out the 
letter " L " and a letter which he be- 
lieved was " C," but of this he was 
uncertain. There was still a third 
one which he could not decipher. 

" If you will let me take this chain 
and ornament, Miss Wardlaw, I will 
promise to return it to you safely ; 
but I would really like to show it to 
a practical engraver. I think that 
under a powerful glass we may be 
able to solve the problem of the 

c 



34 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY. 



monogram. That done, it may 
give us a very valuable clue, upon 
which a detective might work with a 
possibility of success." 

" I shall be only too glad to let 
you take the chain," said Pollie, 
simply, " if you think it will be of 
any help towards finding a trace of 
the family I spring from, though I 
am afraid your efforts will be in vain, 
for years ago Auntie Wardlaw tried 
to discover some trace of kith and 
kindred for me, but without avail." 

" I will be plain with you, Miss 
Wardlaw," said the lawyer, kindly, 
and tell you in the beginning that I 
do not anticipate success. Still, some 
very wonderful discoveries have been 
made by following up slighter clues 
than we have in this filbert-shaped 
ornament, and we may have in this 
simple thing a golden thread that 
will lead us on to the most favour- 
able results. Let us hope so, at 
least." 

Mr. Wopping little imagined the 
importance of the secret contained 
in the little ornament he now held 
in his hand ; if he had done so our 
story would now be told. 



CHAPTER VII. 

AT THE COSTUMER'S SHOP. 

" There is a little thread we may 
follow up at first," said Wopping, as 
they found themselves once more 
in the open street. " It may lead 
to something, and it may not. Still, 
we can try it, and we may stumble 
on the right thing in the end." 

" And what is that ? " eagerly 
asked Bellew. " To me it seems 
like putting one's head in a dark 
pocket, looking for something that 
isn't there." 

" I mean her recollections of the 
circus, for circus it must have been. 
I presume she was one of those 
midgets horse-riding companies are 
so fond of. The thing to do now 
is to look over the newspaper files 
in search of the companies adverti- 
sed to appear in certain parts of 
the country sixteen years ago. 
Once possessed of a knowledge 
of the different troupes and their 
whereabouts at the time, we can 
enter into a correspondence with 
the proprietors — or better, go and 
interview them in person. The 
doubtful thing is to find a horse- 
riding company whose history ex- 



At the cosTumeRS shop. 



tends back over a period of sixteen 
years. Circuses are usually short- 
lived affairs." 

"There's an old fellow in Vine 
Street," said Bellew, "who has been 
engaged for years in the manu- 
facture of theatrical costumes. He 
carries a full line of everything 
needed by the profession, and gets 
up all sorts of things. Now, sup- 
posing that we were to call upon 
him, do you think he would give us 
the benefit of what he knows ? " 

" By all means," said Wopping. 
"We are certain to gain information 
from him that will be of advantage 
to us. After we make a tour of the 
newspaper offices we will go and 
see him. Ten chances to one that 
he gives us the very knowledge 
we are now seeking. Those old 
costumers are regular budgets of 
recollections and bygone reminis- 
cences." 

" To tell the truth," said Bellew, 
" I'd rather my Pollie went down 
to her grave without a pedigree 
than that she should find one 
among those circus people." 

" It isn't for us to say who our 
ancestors shall be," returned Wop- 
ping, cheerfully. " Posterity must 
take its chances. There is, how- 
ever, a sort of remedy nowadays, 



much used by people who happen 
to be unluckily situated in the 
matter of pedigree. If the descent 
isn't considered satisfactory they 
correct it on the books." 

" Yes," cried Bellew, catching 
at the idea, "and that is what I 
mean to do exactly for Pollie. If 
her pedigree fails to be all that it 
should be, it must be fixed so that 
it will satisfy the desires of the most 
exacting." 

A careful search through the 
various newspaper offices failed to 
give any news of circus people who 
could by any possibility have known 
Pollie. 

" One might as well look for a 
needle in a hay-mow, with the 
expectation of finding it," said Bel- 
lew. 

" This is merely the beginning. 
Don't expect success at the start," 
exclaimed the lawyer, calmly. 

" Mr. Warming," cried Teddy, as 
they stepped into a dingy shop, 
" I've brought my friend here to 
see your curiosities and to hear 
some of those capital stories you 
know about theatrical people. 
Hope we don't intrude?" 

"No. intrusion whatever," re- 
turned the old costumer, warmly. 
" Glad to see yon, and any friend 

C t 



36 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY 



you may like to bring with you to 
my humble establishment. Not 
that it is so very humble either, in 
one sense, for my costumes have 
quite a reputation, and have gone 
the length and breadth of the land. 
Not a few of them have taken a 
trip across the water." 

Wopping glanced curiously at the 
strange and motley scene that met 
his gaze. 

Over the shelves that lined the 
sides of the room were stretched 
faded nettings of what had once 
been coloured lace. The shelves 
themselves were stuffed with tawdry 
fineries. A skull and cross-bones 
lay on a small table, and a flame- 
coloured satin robe edged Vvith 
ermine hung over the back of a 
chair. Coronets, helmets, swords 
and shirts of mail hung on the 
walls and were scattered in heaps 
on the dusty floor. 

" These buskins," said the cos- 
tumer, picking out a pair of soft, 
yellow shoes from a promiscuous 
heap ; ' : these buskins belonged to 
Charlotte Cushman ; she gave 'em 
to me one day when she came to 
order a new robe. I don't furnish 
shoes, but you see I have some 
here. They are merely keepsakes, 

: -~,pr -,„.-! r !,.,„,, n v p,.y f a j r rQ |. 



lection. Nearly every actress of 
note has given me a pair of her san- 
dals. There's one of Bernhardt's — 
slim, isn't it ? " 

" You have made the acquaint- 
ance of nearly everybody that ever 
engaged in the theatrical or show 
business," returned Wopping. 

The old costumer smiled softly. 

" I shauld say so. Booth was a 
personal friend of mine, and Edwin 
Forrest has many a time sipped wine 
from that glass yonder. To enume- 
rate the carries of all the celebrated 
people who have purchased goods 
of me would be like filling the pages 
of a book with figures. And when 
it comes to the circus people, their 
trade is a specialty with me, and I 
doubt if in the last five-and-twenty 
years there has been a company on 
the road, either big or litile, that I 
have not supplied with costumes 
one time or another." 

" And how is trade now in com- 
parison with former days ? " 

" Trade is changed. In some 
ways it is much better, and in others 
not so good. When it comes to the 
getting up of actors' and actress' 
suits, they now require costlier 
materials and more of them. In 
this respect the business is improved. 
But formerly there were many small 



IN THE COSTUMER'S SHOP 



37 



companies who played at fairs and 
small country places, and who de- 
pended upon juvenile performers. 
We once did a rushing business 
getting up what was called ' angel 
costumes' for those little folks, and 
it was a mighty paying trade too. 
The goods used were necessarily of 
the flimsiest description and did not 
stand much wear. That is all over 
with now, however. I remember 
there used to be a man by the name 
of Jeakles, who had what he called 
a company of Liliputians, and he 
always played to good business. 
His children drew big houses wher- 
ever he went with them and it cost 
him a fortune to keep them in cos- 
tumes." 

" And is he still at it, or have his 
fairies grown into giants by this time 
and ruined the business ? " laughed 
Bellew. 

" Oh, he's about somewhere, 
though not in that particular branch 
of the show business. He met with 
a great misfortune during the last 
year of the war ; happened to be in 
a town during a sharp fight, and 
some of his children were killed. 
It broke him up, and he never tra- 
velled with juveniles afterwards ; and 
he has somehow been going down 
hill ever since. It seems as if he 



lost his grip, and he can't catch on 
again, that's about the long and 
short of it. Jeakles was an English- 
man, and when he fell to bad luck 
it seemed as if all he could do was 
to fold up his hands and curse this 
' blarsted Hamerican country.' " 

" And his company was com- 
posed of children ? " asked Wop- 
ping, with interest. Peihaps here 
was an opening through which to 
trace Miss Pollie's lost pedigree. 

" Yes, all children, and there were 
ten of 'em — the youngest a mere 
trot of three years. But the way 
those children rode and jumped and 
turned back-handed somersaults to 
an applauding public was enough 
to make older people sick with 
envy." 

" I'd like to see that Mr. Jeakles," 
said Wopping, carelessly. " You 
couldn't give me his address, could 
you, now, Mr. Warming ? " 

The costumer shook his head. 
" I cannot really, much as I would 
like to do so. You see Jeakles 
fights shy of me on account of a bill 
I have against him. In fact, it is 
years since he has entered my estab- 
lishment." 

" Well, I've taken half a notion 
to look him up, and peihaps to start 
him on the road to fortune again. 



33 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY 



What did you say the name of his 
show used to be ? I'll make a 
note of it, as I don't want to forget 
it." 

Wopping took out a card and his 
pencil ready to write it down. 

The old costumer took from off 
a dusty shelf a ponderous volume 
with thick brass corners and heavy 
brass clasps. 

" I have in this book the name of 
every actor and actress and the 
name of every company that ever 
bought a cent's worth of goods in 
my house," said he, slowly running 
his finger down a column of " J's," 
"and here it is: ' Jeakles' Lilipu- 
tian Hippodrome.' " 

Wopping made a note of it. 

" And if you really do think of 
starting Jeakles up again in the 
show business don't forget the old, 
reliable costume house of Henry 
Warming. I'll speak for your trade 
now, and engage to sell you more 
goods and better goods for the 
money that can be had at any other 
house in the city." 

"You've no idea where I might 
find him now ? " 

"Not the slightest. The last I 
heard of him was about a year ago, 
when he was out somewhere in the 
Western country giving concerts 



with the assistance of his wife and 
a coloured man, half-brother, he 
claimed, to Blind Tom. But just 
where he is now is more than I can 
say. I only hope you may find him 
and do him a kind turn, for Jeakles 
is a good-hearted fellow, though just 
a trifle 'off' in business matters." 

"I shall find him," said Wopping, 
" there is no doubt about that. And, 
while we are about it, I wish you 
would give me a list of the juvenile 
companies on the road at present." 

Warming consulted his book 
again. 

" I don't find one left," said he, 
after a moment's pause. " Children 
don't pay as they used to. People's 
tastes have changed wonderfully in 
the last fifteen years. Really, I be- 
lieve that Jeakles' juvenile company 
was the very last one that did any 
sort of business whatever, and it 
broke him up in the end. You see 
it takes a great deal of time and 
trouble to train a child to be a good 
performer ; and, besides, I believe 
nowadays there is what is called a 
Humane Society, that meddles with 
such matters, so that it don't pay a 
man to start out on the road with a 
juvenile troupe when there is a like- 
lihood of his being snatched up at 
any moment for it," 



MR. JF.AKLRS AND WIFE. 



39 



" I'm certain to find Mr. Jeakles," 
said Wopping, turning to go. " If 
anything comes of it I'll let you 
know; be sure that we will remem- 
ber you.'' 

" Send me your trade, sir ; that's 
all I'll ask." 

" Done,'' said the lawyer, laugh- 
ing heartily ; " you shall have it, and 
more besides." 

" Vrhat do you think now?" asked 
Bcllew, as they turned away. " Do 
you believe you found a clue in the 
costumer's shop ? " 

" A lawyer, Teddy, is a man who 
never jumps at a conclusion." 

'• Xo ; well, I'm not a lawyer, you 
know, and I don't mind telling you 
what I think about it. I'm awfully 
afraid Pollie was one of Jeakles' 
juveniles, and if she was — alas for 
her pedigree." 



CHAPTER VIII. 

MR. JEAKLES AND WIFE. 

Mr. YViverlv's dispatch went fly- 
ing over the wires to Chicago, and 
was delivered to Captain Turtle as 
he stood in the little dressing-room 



of " Jeakles' Hippodrome and Fly- 
ing Trapeze Company." 

As Mr. Wiverly's dispatch was 
delivered to him, he thrust the yel- 
low missive into his pocket un- 
opened. 

Other affairs more exciting than 
telegrams were on hand now, and 
claimed his attention. A shover of 
the " queer," who had eluded cap- 
ture successfully for some time, had 
been run down at last, and now sat 
in the showman's tent within a 
stone's throw of the officer himself. 

The Captain's attention had been 
drawn to this case by a complaint 
preferred by the proprietor of the 
circus. 

The showman claimed that at dif- 
ferent times a certain party pur- 
chased tickets to his entertainment, 
each time proffering in payment a 
fifty-dollar bill. As the counterfeit 
bills were an excellent imitation of 
the genuine, and required an expert 
to detect the difference, the circus 
man had found himself swindled 
out of the price of his tickets, and 
of the good money he had used in 
change. 

" I shouldn't so much mind the 
loss of the money, but for the fact 
that we've been a-playin' to hard 
luck, and I'm back on the salaries. 



4o 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY 



As a perfectly natural consequence, 
if I don't come down with the 
stamps the performers will cut stick 
and caper away. And I can't come 
down with the stamps when that 
villain has got 'em all in his pocket," 
said Mr. Jeakles in the officer's ear, 
as they stood behind the curtain of 
the dressing-room and peered out 
into the audience. 

" We'll make him shell out." 

The showman shook his big red 
head. 

" I ain't expectin' such a piece of 
good forchin as that would be, sir," 
said Mr. Jeakles, in a desponding 
tone. " Everything is goin' to the 
bad, so far as I'm concerned. The 
first thirty-one years of my life I was 
somebody — I wuz the celebrated 
Major Domo, the king of all the 
Liliputs in this here blarsted Ham- 
erican country. I could command 
my own terms then, and made 
money. But at thirty-one years of 
age bad luck set in, and I begun a- 
growin'. In one year I growed too 
big for my business, and rooined 
myself. 

" It's an orful thing to say, but it 
is true, for as soon as I hag! growed 
too big to be of any use as a Lili- 
put it wuz my blamed luck to stop 
a-growin' right there. So here I 



am, a sort of a betwixt and a be- 
tween, too little to be a man, and 
too big to be a drorf — the werry 
worst fix wot a chap can be in." 

Tears of rage stood in Mr. 
Jeakles' small blue eyes. 

" But if bad luck would stop now, 
I wouldn't complain. Not I ; but, 
when it rains willains, and pours 
down wagabonds, who rake out my 
hard-earned dollars, as has been my 
experience of late, sir, it's dis- 
couragin' — werry." 

"You've my deepest sympathy," 
said the Captain, soothingly. 

" And if that air wagabond does 
get away with my money I'm a 
busted community. All I've got 
air them seven wite mules over 
yonder — wot does the hippodromin' 
— seven eddycated, walable mules, 
wot I love as I love my life. But 
the company will attach 'em unless 
I come down with the salaries." 

" Don't worry, Mr. Jeakles ; we 
are certain to capture the rascal. 
I. have an eye on him now. My 
men are posted on the outside, 
and he cannot possibly get away, 
except he goes in my com- 
pany." 

" I've my eye on him too," 
grumbled the dwarf. " It taint a 
werry big eye, nor a werry pretty 



MR. JEAKLES AND li'lEE. 



41 



eye, but it's a werry sharp eye — if 
it's all the same to you, sir." 

" Oh, yes ! " 

" And he's the chap a-sittin' 
on the front seat yonder — in the 
mustache and side whiskers. He 
thinks he's disguised so I won't 
know 'im, but 'e's mistaken. That 
are woice o' his and his broken 
finger would give 'im dead away 
anywhere." 

" You must have observed him 
closely ? " 

" Bet your life I did. No man 
is going to swindle me the way 
that chap's done and I not take due 
notice of his ginral arkitekchure. 
The first bogus money we got set 
me to thinkin', an' we kept a sharp 
look-out for the man who offered us 
fifty-dollar bills. I had lodged a 
complaint, and when that are chap 
over there with the woice and the 
crooked finger shook his fifty-dollar 
bill under my nose to-night and 
says ' Ten tickets, Mr. Jeakles, and 
change for a fifty,' I tumbled to his 
music, and made up my mind he'd 
soon pipe to a different tune." 

The detective had no idea of dis- 
turbing the entertainment by making 
the capture until the performances 
were over, unless the intended vic- 
tim should attempt to leave the 



tent, in which case he was obliged 
to do his duty. 

He now slipped down quietly 
into the audience, and worked his 
way towards the seat where the 
rascal was sitting without attracting 
attention. The show went on ac- 
cording to the programme. Every- 
thing was in good order, from the 
clown who cracked his stale old 
jokes to the riders who went flying 
around the sawdust arena in bare 
legs and tinselled garments. The de- 
tective, however, had hardly gotten 
in the desired place ere the fellow 
he was watching turned about sud- 
denly and stared him in the 
face. 

With a bound he sprang into the 
arena, amid the flying mules and the 
chariot riders. 

"Stop thief!" cried the Captain, 
giving chase. 

Instantly there was the wildest 
confusion. The frightened cnimals 
tore about the ring, regardless of the 
cries of the drivers, and the audi- 
ence rushed pell-mell to the places 
of exit. 

A moment more and the fying 
villain would have gained the ouUt 
edge of the tent, when with a scream 
the wife of the showman flung her- 
self upon him, and, clasping him 



42 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY 



tightly by the neck, hung there, 
dead weight. 

"Hug him, Mrs. Jealdes!" howled 
the showman, capering wildly around 
the couple; "hug him, Sairy Ann. 
Hug him for his mother and his 
sister, and any other man. Put in 
your best licks, old girl. Hug him 
tighter." 

But, quick as the escaping rascal 
had been in his motions, the Captain 
was equally lightning-like in the 
rapidity with which he had given 
chase. As Mrs. Jeakles threw her- 
self upon him, Captain Turtle had 
also seized the wretch by the 
collar. 

" You are my prisoner ! " said the 
detective. 

"Not yet, my hearty. You will 
smile, you will, when you take 
Boston Billy in out of the cold ; and 
don't you forget it." 

" Do your jooty, Mrs. Jeakles," 
shrieked the dwarf, his bells jingling 
merrily and his wand waving as he 
pranced about the struggling trio ; 
" hug him, Mrs. Jeakles." 

" D — n the woman ! " cried the 
prisoner, striking her a stunning 
blow with his clinched fist. 

Mrs. Jeakles gave a piercing cry 
and sank insensible to the ground. 

At that moment the iron brace- 



lets clicked as they were snapped 
upon his wrists. 

"You did do it," growled the 
prisoner, as the click of the iron 
told him the jig was up ; " but you 
had your hands full. Only for that 
woman," spurning the unconscious 
form with his foot, " I would have 
shown you the cleanest pair of heels 
you ever saw in your life." 

The showman flew to the side of 
his better-half. " Sairy Ann," cried 
he in tears, " speak to your own 
Henery. Speak to Jeakles, love, do." 

He laid her head upon his knee, 
moaning loudly. 

" Sprinkle her face with water," 
said the detective. " She will come 
round all right in a little while." 

"Water," sobbed the dwarf, ten- 
derly, wiping his wife's face with his 
coat-tail. " Water ! Now, if you 
only said oh-^-we, instead of water, 
that would have fetched Sairy Ann. 
Mrs. Jeakles, sir, is no common 
female that she should take up with 
plain water when it's ihe oh-^-we 
that was alius her favourite sup." 

" Well, then, give her a little 
brandy, if you want to. Somebody 
bring a«little brandy here," said the 
detective. 

"And a epidemic syringe," adde:- 
Mr. Jeakles, mournfully. 



1M\ JEAKLKS AND WIFE. 



43 



" A what ? " ejaculated the 
Captain. 

"A epidemic syringe — a wcrry 
useful instrument it is too. sir. But 
p'raps there ain't sich a thing to be 
found in this here blarsted Hameri- 
can country. If there is, I want it 
fetched for Sairy Ann." 

" An epidemic instrument isn't 
needed in this case, my good fellow," 
said a young physician, stepping 
forward and scrutinizing the faint- 
ing woman. " Your wife is coming 
to all right. See ! " 

I'lrs. Jeakles opened her eyes, 
and struggled to a sitting posture. 
Her gaze roved about until it fell 
upon the prisoner. 

" I've got him," she articulated, 
slowly. " Jeakles, I've got him — 
the wile willain." 

" No, you haven't, Sairy Ann," 
cried the showman, " but the Cap- 
tain has, v.ich is all the same." 

" Xot quite the same either," 
growled Boston Billy. 

" Ojus retch!" screamed Mrs. 
Jeakles, struggling to her feet and 
glaring at the prisoner ; " let me at 
him, and his own mother won't 
know him in two minutes. Let me 
at him, I say ; I'm a-spilin' for it." 



Captain Turtle took the prisoner 
by the arm and walked him off. 
Turning to the showman, he 
said : 

" I shall see this fellow lodged 
behind the bars. You must not fail 
to appear against him at the trial, 
which will be soon." 

" Jeakles knows no such word as 
fail," retorted the showman, snap- 
ping his fingers airily in the pris- 
oner's face. " I'll be there fast 
enough." 

The detective marched the rogue 
away. It was not until he had 
lodged him in a prison cell that he 
thought of the unopened telegram 
in his coat-pocket. 

He tore it open and read : 

" A great case awaits you. Twenty 
thousand dollars reward in case you 
succeed. Liberal allowance for 
services rendered, should you fail. 
Come at once. 

" AViverly & WorpiNG, 

"Attorneys and Counsellors at Law." 

He went directly to a telegraph 
office, and sent the single word : 
" Coming. 

" Turtle." 



44 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY 



CHAPTER IX. 

TWENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS 
REWARD. 

A week had passed. The body 
of the late master of Rokewood had 
been laid away for ever in the 
family vault under Rokewood 
chapel. The dead man had been 
carried to his long home attended 
by all the pomp and ceremony 
befitting the high position and 
enormous wealth that had been his 
in life. The velvet-covered bier, 
the sombre hearse, the long train of 
funeral carriages, had played their 
several parts and gone. 

Dead to the world, dead to his 
vengeance, Rokewood now slept 
the untroubled sleep of death. 

A week had passed, and to Mr. 
Wiverly it had seemed a long one. 
The detective's telegram had been 
delivered, and he was hourly ex- 
pected. Mr. Wiverly now sat in his 
office, with his feet resting com- 
fortably on the top of a high stool, 
puffing away at his cigar. 

Now, through the clouds of smoke 
that closed in and around the rotund 
figure of the genial attorney came a 
new arrival upon the scene. 



" I have called to see a 
gentleman who sent a telegram to 
Chicago last Tuesday," said a low 
voice. 

Mr. Wiverly started up ; he 
peered through the dense rings of 
blue smoke at a stranger who had 
quietly entered the office. 

" You are not the great Chicago 
detective ? " ejaculated Wiverly, ex- 
tending his hand. 

' I am Captain Turtle." 

" Glad to see you, Captain. Sit 
down ; my partner will soon be 
in." 

" Let us proceed immediately 
with the business which brings me 
here," said the detective, taking a 
seat. " Business before pleasure is 
the rule with me." 

" Right, sir, and so it should be 
with us all," returned the lawyer, 
throwing down his cigar, and open- 
ing a window. 

" I saw some bills, while on my 
way here, which I suppose refers to 
the case I am to be employed 
upon," said the great detective, lay- 
ing a paper upon the table. 

Wiverly picked it up. It was a 
small poster, fresh from the press. 
The ink upon it was not yet 
dry. In great black letters was 
printed ; 



TU'EXTY THOUSAND DOLLARS REWARD. 



45 



" TWENTY THOUSAND 
DOLLARS REWARD 

for information that will lead to a 
discovery of Catherine Rokewood 
and her child, who escaped from 
Wansmore Prison, Nov. 10, a.d. 
i860. We will pay twenty thou- 
sand dollars reward. For particulars 
address 

" Wiverly & Wopping, 
"Attorneys and Counsellors at Law, 
" Hampton, W. Va." 

Wiverly laid the bill down. 

" You are right ; it does." 

"Give me the outline of the 
story," said the Captain, sitting 
down at the table. 

" It is a long one," said Wiverly, 
"and runs back for a period of 
nearly twenty years. I confess to 
you, in the start, that there is but 
the faintest prospect of ultimate 
success. You see, I am frank with 
yoi\" 

" I expect you to be so," said the 
detective ; " and, indeed, will not 
undertake the case unless you are." 

" Good ! But, as it is my hour 
for lunch, suppose we have it served 
here. The story will sound none 
the worse for being told over a 
bottle of wine. And, if I mistake 
not, you have not dined. Be my 



guest for the time being. I won't 
promise you a treat in anything but 
the story, however." 

" Done," laughed the detective. 
" I only stipulate that there shall he 
no delay in telling the tale. I am 
anxious to hear it at once." 

Wiverly rose quickly, and, g jing 
out into the passage, called out : 

" Hullo, there ! Bane, come down 
here a moment. I want you." 

A faint answer sounded down the 
staircase, and presently the ill-clad 
figure of the Nobody shuffled down 
the stairway, shuffled along the 
passage, and finally shuffled itself 
in at the office door. 

"Take this bill, Matthew," said 
the lawyer, not unkindly, " and 
bring me luncheon for three people. 
Get a bottle or two of the best wine, 
and be back as soon as possible." 

The Captain eyed the Nobody 
curiously as he slunk away. 

" You keep a man, do you ? " 
said he. 

" No. Bane does errands for us 
occasionally. He's poorer than a 
church mouse, and glad to do any- 
thing thai comes in his way. lie is 
a fixture of this old court, and has 
been here so long he might well be 
called the father of the lodgings. 
But he is in his decline now, and 



4 6 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY. 



has about come to the end of his 
rope, as the saying is. Wopping, 
my partner, has been making a study 
of him these last ten years, but I 
doubt if he has learned even the 
first page of Bane's peculiar charac- 
ter. One might as well try to solve 
the eternal mystery of the Pyramids 
as to fathom the depths of that 
strange nature." 

Bane was back again presently 
with the luncheon. 

" You may spread it on the other 
table," said Wiverly, " and sit down 
with us, Bane. This gentleman is 
the famous detective, Captain Turtle, 
of Chicago." 

Bane started at this information, 
and stared hard at the detective 
through the green glasses that 
covered his eyes. 

He half turned to the open door, 
as if he would leave the room ; but, 
thinking better of it, sat down feebly 
in a chair by the table, the sickly 
yellow of his complexion turning to 
a sicklier yellow still. 

The Captain could not help but 
see the effect his presence produced 
upon the strange creature before him. 

" Don't be scared," said he, 
laughing; "it is only rogues who 
need to fear me, and I am sure you 
are no rogue." 



" No," faltered Bane, shaking his 
head, " I am no rogue." 

"No one in the land is readier 
than Captain Turtle to take a poor 
man by the hand," continued the 
detective, cheerily. " Here's luck 
to you, and better fortune." 

He crushed in his own big, warm 
palm the frail and trembling hand 
the Nobody extended to him. 

" Let us eat and drink to our suc- 
cess in the great Rokewood case," 
cried Wiverly, pouring out some 
wine. 

Bane became actually ghastly. 

Captain Turtle was watching the 
wretched creature curiously. He 
could not account for the peculiar 
feeling Bane aroused within him. 

" You are bound to reopen that 
dead-and-gone mystery, are you ? " 
said the Nobody, in a low voice. 

" We must," said Wiverly, briskly; 
" we are bound to find the heiress 
of Rokewood, and to do so must 
of course first find the mother." 

"You will fail," said Bane, with 
an air of conviction. " Twenty years 
ago the best detectives in the coun- 
try were after her, without success. 
The trail she might have left behind 
her is too cold now for you to ex- 
pect anything but the direst failure." 

" The detective system of twenty 



Tin: A 1 TV TIIOUSAXD DOLLARS REWARD. 



47 



years ago cannot be compared with 
the system of to-day," said the 
Captain. " Somehow I feel in my 
soul that I shall bring the Rokewood 
case to a successful termination." 

Bane choked, and rose from the 
table. 

" What new clues have you 
picked up at this late day ? " asked 
Bane. 

His voice was muffled and un- 
steady. 

" None, Matthew — none what- 
ever," said the lawyer, cheerfully. 
" As managers of the Rokewood 
estate it is our duty to find the heir, 
if possible. We have employed 
Captain Turtle to go over the case 
again — not expecting he will succeed, 
however, in finding one who is so 
hopelessly lost. Undoubtedly he 
will fail, as all others have failed 
before him ; but we must do what 
we can." 

Captain Turtle saw the furtive 
glance shot at him by the Nobody. 
Bane shivered and shrunk away in 
his ill-fitting garments, as if he would 
thus hide himself from sight. The 
detective was watching him closely, 
and the outcast, seeming to feel 
that steady stare, turned upon him 
with sudden anger. 

" So you hunt women as well as 



men, do you?" he snarled. "And 
you would set yourself upon the 
trail of a lost and miserable wretch 
like Catherine Rokewood, and bring 
her to the gallows for the sake 
of earning a little money ? For 
shame ! " 

" Bane, you are unreasonable," 
said the lawyer. " Catherine's child 
is now the heir to a magnificent 
fortune. It would be criminal for 
us to sit down and fold our hands 
and let the money go to the bow- 
wows without making an effort to 
find the heir, and we don't propose 
to do so." 

Bane pushed his old felt hat 
down hard upon his head. His 
hand fluttered to his heart and 
rested there an instant, as though 
he had been stung by a sudden 
pain. Then he shuffled, in his old 
laborious fashion, to the door. 

" You are resorting to subter- 
fuge," said he, hoarsely, " to mean, 
low subterfuge, and you know 
it. You know that by this time 
Catherine Rokewood's child is 
beyond the want of mere money." 

"You speak positively," said the 
Captain. " It is possible that you 
have authority for making such 
assertions ? Now, if you have, and 
will give me but the merest hint by 



43 



the kOKEWooD Tragedy 



which I may make a start in the 
right direction, I'll cry halves with 
you in the reward." 

Bane's wretched form seemed 
convulsed by some strong and 
violent emotion. " Not I," he 
muttered, menacingly. "Not I. 
Poor as I am, ill as I am, and shall 
always be during the few more years 
I have to live, there is no sum you 
could mention that would induce 
me for a moment to betray the 
woman you seek, supposing I could 
do so." He burst into a violent 
fit of coughing, so prolonged and 
severe that the good-natured at- 
torney was alarmed. 

" There, there, Bane," cried Wi- 
verly, " don't excite yourself un- 
necessarily. Of course you don't 
know anything about where she is ; 
I only wish you might. Take a 
sip of wine — that's a good fel- 
low." 

Bane motioned the glass away 
indignantly, and, slinking out of the 
room, passed on into the open 
street. 



CHAPTER X. 

THE STORY OF CATHERINE ROKE- 
WOOD. 

"Your Matthew Bane interests 
me," said the detective, as they 
found themselves once more alone. 
"To me he seems to be acting a 
part, and I believe he knows more 
of the person you are seeking than 
he likes to admit." 

Wiverly roared with laughter. 

" You're ' off,' Captain ; you're 
all ' off,' by the great horn spoon, 
you are." 

" How do you explain his sudden 
anger at the bare mention of the 
Rokewood case ? " 

" Easily enough. As I under- 
stand it, Bane used to be a lover of 
hers, and, like some strange natures, 
he has not outlived his passion ; 
but, in spite of the ignominy and 
disgrace which clouds her brief 
career, he is still faithful to her 
memory. A dozen years ago, when 
her father's property reverted to 
her, Bane openly rejoiced, and 
wished he could take it to her with 
his own hands." 

" Her father's property ? How 
much was it ? " 



THE STORY OF CATHERINE ROKEWOOD. 



49 



" Five hundred thousand — just." 

"' Worth looking after. It is to 
her own interests, then, as well as 
to the interests of her child, that she 
should be found." 

" On the contrary, it is to her 
greatest interest to remain hidden." 

" Why ? " 

" By Jove ! when she ran off, 
twenty years ago, she was under 
sentence of death. She dare not 
return." 

" Go on." 

" Old man Rokewood himself was 
her deadliest enemy, and he swore 
she should hang if he had to com- 
pass the earth to bring it about. 
You see, Catherine Deane was the 
daughter of Major Deane, of the 
Willows. She was an only child, and 
the Major thought her the very 
'apple of his eye.' She was the 
greatest belle this part of the world 
ever had. There wasn't much but 
what Catherine Deane could do. 
Like all our Southern young ladies, 
the Major's daughter was a fearless 
rider, and the prettiest sight I ever 
remember to have seen was Miss 
Kate when, with her father, she rode 
after the hounds. By Jove ! she 
could take a fence, or a stone wall, 
or a ditch with any of them. She 
had a peculiar style of beauty, being 



very tall for a woman, and slender 
as a reed, and she had the longest 
and thickest hair I ever saw on a 
woman's head. It was the colour 
of flax and soft as silk, and when 
she would let it down, as she some- 
times did, it covered her from head 
to heel like a fleece. I never saw 
that flaxen banner of hers but it put 
me in mind of the story of the Lady 
Godiva, who rode through the streets 
of Coventry enveloped in a mantle 
of her own thick hair. 

"Well, Catherine Deane lived a 
merry life and a happy enough life 
until her eighteenth year. She rode, 
and sang, and danced, and had her 
own wild will until then, and then 
she met Jerome Rokewood. Jerome 
was an only child, and as high- 
spirited and headstrong as all only 
sons usually are. Every luxury that 
his father's enormous wealth could 
give to him was his. Every advan- 
tage that money and high position 
could command was lavished upon 
him. He never knew what it was 
to have a wish ungratified or a want 
denied until he met Catherine 
Deane. 

" Between the Deanes and the 
Rokewoods existed a deadly feud — ■ 
a feud that had been handed down 
from father to son for more than a 



So 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY 



hundred years. It had existed for 
generations, and the deadliest hatred 
for each other rankled in the hearts 
of the older members of each family. 
It was the year previous to the be- 
ginning of the great war that Jerome 
came home from Europe, a gay 
young gentleman, handsome and 
fascinating to a degree. Catherine 
at that time was one of the reigning 
belles of Newport. Her beauty, 
her grace, her wealth, placed her 
second to none. Jerome deter- 
mined, unluckily, to make a tour of 
the American watering-places. He 
had brought a small party of friends 
with him from the Old World, to 
whom he wished to show the famous 
and celebrated places of his native 
land. 

" At Newport he met Catherine 
Deane. In an unguarded moment 
young Rokewood sought an intro- 
duction to the beautiful daughter of 
his own and his father's enemy. 

" It proved to be a case of 
mutual love at first sight, and the 
sequel was a surreptitious mar- 
riage. 

" Not doubting that their parents 
would forgive them for their hasty 
action thepairwent quietly homeand 
announced their marriage. Major 
Deane, in the first furious outburst 



of his passion, thrust his motherless 
child from his door, and swore 
he would never acknowledge her 



again. 



" He followed this act up by rush- 
ing away to his lawyer that night, 
and making a will in which he cut 
her off without a penny. In less 
than a week he met his death by a 
fall from his horse. He died, leaving 
his money, a million or more, as a 
fund for the establishment of a home 
for indigent old men. However, 
owing to some mismanagement on 
the part of the directors, who failed 
to comply with some of its require- 
ments, the will was eventually pro- 
nounced null and void, and the 
property reverted to the natural heir. 
It has been accumulating all these 
years, for Mrs. Rokewood has never 
put in a claim for a penny of it. 
Under existing circumstances she 
dare not. No woman with a price 
on her life is likely to put in a 
claim for money, if by so doing her- 
safety is endangered. There has 
been a standing reward for her cap- 
ture these many years, and she 
knows it. It was thought by many, 
when her father disinherited her for 
marrying the man he hated so 
bitterly, that her father-in-law would 
take up the cudgel in her defence. 



THE STORY OF CATHERINE ROKEWOOD. 



Si 



'■ lUit nothing of the sort. 
" If Major Dcane's rage had 
been something awful to witness 
upon being told of his child's mar- 
riage to the son of his sworn enemy 
that of the elder Rokevvood was 
tenfold. He did not seem to 
blame his son for any part of it, 
but poured out the vials of his 
wrath upon the defenceless head of 
the poor young wife. He not only 
cursed her, but he called her the 
vilest names ; told her she was an 
adventuress, a wanton thing, and 
he swore that, come what would, the 
marriage should be annulled and 
his son sent abroad. 

" She had a high spirit. All the 
Deanes had been celebrated for 
their unconquerable spirit, but 
Rokewood's curses crushed her into 
the dust. As a natural sequence, 
Jerome stood by his wife, and 
cpenly defied his father to separate 
them. In this crisis it was brought 
in evidence later that Catherine had 
seized a pistol and fired it, the ball 
piercing young Rokewood to the 
heart. 

" Beside himself, Rokewood had 
her arrested— charging her with the 
crime of murder. From the begin- 
ning of her trial to the very end 
he was her most bitter enemy. He 



left no stone unturned in order to 
secure her conviction, and he testi- 
fied solemnly in court that she had 
not only killed her husband but had 
threatened to shoot himself as well. 

" No woman ever found so 
vindictive, so desperate a foe as 
Catherine found in the person of 
her husband's father. He pursued 
her with a relentless hate that was 
appalling. From the very first he 
swore she should expiate her crime 
on the gallows, and when he rose 
up in that crowded court-room, and 
took his solemn oath that she had 
fired at her husband with the 
avowed intention of' committing 
murder, there was no hope for her. 

" There was not a soul she could 
summon to testify for her — not one. 
She told her simple story, how she 
had grasped the pistol — being 
desperate— and pointing it at her 
own breast, had threatened to take 
her own life — how Jerome had 
seized it, and at the instant had 
fallen a corpse at her feet. 

" She was without relatives or 
friends— not a soul to stand up in 
her defence. Her lawyers did what 
they could for her, but their efforts 
availed nothing. 

" If I should live a thousand 
years I could not forget that terrible 



52 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY. 



court-room, packed to its utmost 
capacity, and that death-white girlish 
face in the prisoner's dock, as the 
Judge sentenced her to suffer the 
extreme penalty of the law. It was 
horrible ! horrible ! It seemed at 
first as though she did not under- 
stand ; then, as his meaning grew 
clear to her, she rose up, and, fling- 
ing her arms above her head, gave 
vent to a shriek that sometimes 
rings in my ears yet. I don't 
wonder that Rokewood thought he 
heard that terrible cry on his death- 
bed. It ought to ring in his ears 
through eternity. Many people at 
the time condemned the Judge 
openly for the severity of his sen- 
tence, and vowed that it was Roke- 
wood's money and Rokewood's in- 
fluence that had bought the sentence. 
But there was no proof that such was 
the case. Assertions are one thing, 
and evidence another, you know. 

"Well, she was sentenced, and 
the sentence was to have taken 
effect on the eleventh day of 
November, but before that day 
arrived it was apparent to every- 
body that the unhappy girl was to 
become a mother. The law stepped 
in here, and a respite was granted 
her. The law sometimes murders 
the innocent, but such c^ses are 



not intentional, you know. The 
delay threw Rokewood into par- 
oxysms of rage. He vowed it was 
a concocted plan of the prison 
officials to evade carrying out the 
full letter of the law, and he de- 
clared she should eventually hang 
if he had to compass heaven and 
earth to bring it about. 

" A week from the day that was 
to have been her last one in this 
world Catherine gave birth to a 
female child. 

" People now thought that the 
child would soften the heart of the 
implacable old man ; but it did 
not ; if anything, the birth of the 
child excited him to more de- 
termined efforts against the mother. 
Catherine's conduct while in prison 
was such that it won her many 
friends among the officials. 

" She was very quiet and gentle ; 
the fiery troubles she had passed 
through seemed to have crushed 
her proud heart to the dust. 

"As she regained her strength 
Rokewood began to worry the 
judges with his importunities, de- 
manding that the sentence should 
now be carried out. Once more the 
day was appointed. A feeling of 
horror at her approaching doom at 
last seemed to stir the hearts of the 



THE STORY OF CATHERINE ROKEWOOD. 



53 



people ; a petition for pardon was 
circulated through the country, and 
scores of people signed their names 
to it ; some of the best known citi- 
zens in the State too ; but Roke- 
wood fought it out step by step ; he 
fought it from its inception at 
Wansmore Court House until it 
went to the Governor's office. And 
he did not stop there ; he followed 
that plea for mercy inside the 
Governor's gates, disputing the jus- 
tice of its appeal ; and he disputed 
it with such terrible force that, at 
the last moment, the paper was re- 
turned to the petitioners unsigned. 
The people had their revenge, how- 
ever, for Governor X was so 

badly beaten in his race for office at 
the ensuing election that he never 
realized he had been a candidate at 
all, and from that time to this he 
has been as dead, politically, as 
Julius Caesar. 

"There was now no help for the 
wretched Catherine Rokewood. I 
visited her in her prison cell a few 
days before the one set for the ex- 
ecution, and I told her anything man 
could do for her I would do. I 
a>ked her what provision she in- 
tended to make for her child, and, 
as I knew her to be penniless at 
that time, her father having willed 



away his property from her, I offeied 
to take that child and see that it 
was cared for; but she wouldn't 
listen to me. All she would say 
was, ' I know you are Rokewood's 
lawyer, and I cannot trust you.' 
By Jove ! it stung me to the quick ; 
but there was no help for it. Well, 
the morning came on which she 
was to die. It was a cheerless 
November day, with leaden skies 
and a slow-dropping, sullen rain, as 
if the very heavens protested against 
the deed that was to be done. At 
six o'clock that morning the warden 
unlocked the door of Catherine's 
cell. It was empty ! 

" The prisoner was gone, she and 
her child, slick and clean, leaving 
not one trace behind. 

"The news of her escape went 
like wild-fire over the city. Officers 
were immediately sent out in every 
direction. Rokewood himself was 
like a madman. He caused im- 
mense posters to be scattered broad- 
cast over the city, giving a minute 
description of the prisoner and her 
child, and offered ten thousand dol 
lars reward for her capture. Every 
effort was in vain. She had disap- 
peared as effectually as if the earth 
had opened and taken her in. 
Even the leaf of the prison register 



54 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY- 



on which was recorded the birth of 
the infant was torn out and gone." 

Mr. Wiverly paused in his long 
story, and gazed pensively at his 
boots for a moment. 

" She must have had assistance 
in leaving the prison," said the 
detective. "There must have been 
some friend inside the prison walls 
powerful enough to unlock the 
barred door, and make it possible 
for her to escape. The question 
is, who was that friend?" 

Wiverly's eyes twinkled. 

" There was a wild tale," said he, 
with a sly smile curling the corners 
of his mouth, "that the prison 
matron acted the part of a rescuing 
friend to the wretched prisoner. It 
is certain, at least, that the matron 
did not deny having done so. It 
was even whispered that the matron 
had not only helped the girl to 
escape, but that she had provided 
a disguise and a supply of money 
and let her out of the jail by means 
of false keys, misrepresentation, 
and such other arts as she hnd at 
her command. It was suspected, 
too, that a certain warden, who was 
desirous of standing well in the 
matron's good graces, had lent a 
helping hand, and that he had 
winked at a certain tall figure which 



had passed him by in the dead of 
night, attired in the matron's gown 
and bearing a basket of linen, ap- 
parently, on her arm. The warden 
had winked at the ceiling as this 
figure passed him unquestioned. 
But the law, you know, could not 
' wink ' at the dereliction of its 
servants, and, in consequence, the 
matron was speedily relieved from 
the responsibilities of her position, 
and the warden likewise. It is 
said, however, that the erring pair 
suffered but little inconvenience at 
their hasty dismissal from office. 
They were immediately married, 
and the misguided public not only 
applauded their performance but 
made up a substantial purse and 
presented it to them as a sort of 
memorial. If I mistake not, Mr. 
Wopping added a hundred-dollar 
contribution to this purse, and in 
one of his mistaken moments 
charged the same to the firm of 
Wiverly & Wopping. 

" One by one I must pick up the 
threads of this strange affair, and go 
carefully over every detail by itself. 
I must find that prison matron." 

"There's nothing easier," said 
Wiverly, calmly. " To my certain 
knowledge she has been lying by 
the side of her husband, the warden, 



THE STORY OF CATHERINE ROKEWOOD. 



55 



in Wansmore Cemetery for the past 
eighteen years. They were both 
carried off about the same time by 
diphtheria, and I don't believe that 
either of them can have gotten 
r.way." 

Mr. Wiverly smiled aloud at his 
ghastly little joke. 

" Perhaps, Captain, you don't be- 
lieve in making light of grave sub- 
jects ? 1 beg your pardon," said 
V.'iverly, seeing the detective did 
not echo his mirth. 

" I am too much in earnest in this 
case to find anything to laugh at in a 
statement which deprives me of those 
who must have proved to be of 
valuable assistance in unravelling the 
mystery of Catherine Rokewood. As 
it now is, the obstacles which sur- 
round the case seem to be almost 
unsurmountable. Still I don't de- 
spair. My professional reputation is 
now at stake, and I feel that in the 
end I must and will succeed." 

" Don't expect too much," said 
"Wiverly. " Remember that nearly 
twenty years have elapsed since she 
escaped from her prison cell, and 
that, when she slipped away, she left 
not the slightest trace behind her. 
Remember the changes wrought 
immediately after her flight by the 
great war, which ensued the follow- 



ing year, and don't expect success 
Dut there is one point I have lately 
discovered, which, I think, would 
be well to follow up." 

" And that ? " asked the detective, 
eagerly. 

" Before his death Rokewood 
dropped certain words which led me 
to suspect that perhaps Catherine 
might not be guilty of her husband's 
death. To be sure, it is only a 
suspicion with me. At no time 
during her trial and incarceration in 
prison did she make a denial of the 
shooting. She claimed that it was 
done by an accidental discharge of 
the weapon. Rokewood testified 
solemnly to the contrary, and de- 
clared it was wilful murder. 

" On his death-bed Rokewood 
dropped several words which but for 
certain circumstances I should have 
regarded as the wild vagaries of a 
mind diseased by long illness ; 
words little enough in themselves, 
yet when taken as a whole, fraught 
with terrible meaning, and which 
pointed to the unmistakable con- 
clusion that Catherine must be 
innocent of the crime he had 
charged her with 

" Whatever the secret was Roke- 
wood died possessed of — and secret 
I am convinced there really was — is 



56 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY. 



shared to-day by the servant, Marley. 
If we could make that secret yield 
us up the proof of Catherine's inno- 
cence, as I hope and believe it must, 
the rest would be comparatively 
easy. A pardon by the Governor 
could not then be refused, in which 
case Catherine herself might step 
forward without fear, and she would 
do so in all probability." 

" It is a sad case," said the de- 
tective. 

" It is, indeed," returned Wiverly, 
quickly, " and it has a most dis- 
couraging outlook now, I admit. 
But I want you to do your very best 
for us." 

Captain Turtle rose and paced 
the floor. " I must have the widest 
latitude in which to prosecute my 
researches. No man, woman or 
child must be exempt from any in- 
quiries I may wish to put to them." 

'•' Certainly not," said Wiverly, 
" not even poor old Matthew Bane. 
And as to Marley, he is in charge of 
Rokewood House, and, if you like, 
you shall be domiciled under the 
same roof with him until you have 
wormed his secret from him." 

" I accept the offer," said the 
Captain. " In return, I have a re- 
quest to make of you, which you 
may deem a foolish one. Still, to 



my mind, it is one of importance, 
and that is " 

" Granted before it is preferred," 
said Wiverly, hastily. 

" My request is," said the detec- 
tive, quietly, " that, no matter what 
the provocation shall be, you will 
carefully keep every scrap of infor- 
mation about my proceedings in 
the Rokewood case from Matthew 
Bane." 



CHAPTER XL 

THE TROUBLES OF MISS POLLIE 
WARDLAW. 

Miss Pollie Wardlaw sat in her 
maiden bower. The various para- 
phernalia usually belonging to 
pretty girls like Miss Pollie now 
littered the chairs and table, and 
were spread out on the full, white 
bed whereon our young lady was 
wont to court nature's sweet re- 
storer — balmy sleep. 

From present indications, how- 
ever, Miss Pollie evidently had no 
intention of wooing the soothing 
charms of the drowsy god. She 
was certainly very wide-awake, and 
a peculiar sparkle in her big blue 
eyes indicated plainly enough that 
there was trouble ahead for some- 



THE TROUBLES OF MISS TOLLIE WARD LAW 



57 



body. She was holding a note in 
her hand — a note that had been 
read and flung to the floor, and 
which, in a spasm of passionate 
rage, had been ground wickedly 
under Miss Pollie's heels. How- 
ever, from this ignominious posi- 
tion the offending missive had been 
rescued, only to be read with greater 
indignation on the part of Miss 
Wardlaw, with a hasty collection of 
various bags and boxes as a result. 

These bags and boxes were Miss 
Pollie's storehouses, as it were, 
and she now set about cramming 
into their yawning maws the various 
odds and ends that constituted her 
" belongings." 

"If I had been born a some- 
bod}', or as homely as the witches 
we read of, or, better still, had not 
been born at all, how much worry 
would have been spared me ! " 
soliloquized she, peeping sidewise 
into a little mirror on her dressing 
bureau, and winking slyly at the 
reflection she saw there. There 
was a wrinkle of discontent on the 
pretty white forehead, and a sar- 
castic curve to the mouth usually 
so smiling. 

Miss 'Wardlaw snapped a pair of 
pink-tipped fingers at her image in 
the mirror. 



" Here you are," she said with 
some indignation, addressing the 
image in the glass. " Here you 
are, Pollie Wardlaw, born to cir- 
cumstances that do not fit you at 
all, born with a personal appear- 
ance that is a daily detriment to 
your getting on in life ; and worse 
than either, and both combined, 
born a nobody of the very first 
water. For shame, for shame ! 
How could you do it ? " Miss Pol- 
lie suddenly turned herself about, 
and folding up a white woollen 
gown put it into one of the pack- 
ing cases. As she did so, a photo- 
graph dropped from its folds. She 
picked it up. 

" Poor Teddy," said she, plain- 
tively apostrophizing the pictured 
face, " Poor Teddy. How can I 
give you up ? How can I promise 
that cruel old papa of yours that I 
will never see you again ? I can- 
not, and, what is more, I " 

Miss Pollie picked up the offend- 
ing letter again, and glanced down 
its closely-written pages. A flush 
rose to her cheek; her eyes sparkled. 
" I won't promise ! " shutting her 
teeth tightly. " The mean old 
thing. I will go away if that will 
please him. I intended to do so 
anyway ; but, I never will give up 



58 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY. 



Teddy." She placed the letter 
under a paper weight — Teddy's gift 
■ — and went on with her packing. 

MissPollie was usually averyeven- 
tempered young lady, but now she was 
certainly very much " out of sorts." 

She had this advantage, however. 
No matter what her mood happened 
to be, her admirers were wont to 
declare her to be twice as pretty in 
the last as in the one preceding, 
and if her eyes now sparkled with 
angry passion, and her colour rose 
as she whisked the various articles 
of her not too extensive wardrobe 
into the boxes, there was this about 
it — Pollie Ward law angry was twice 
as distractingly pretty as Pollie 
Wardlaw pleased. 

The letter that had roused her 
just wrath was now spread out on 
the little table in plain view. It was 
written in a plain, bold hand, and 
bore the usual printed head common 
to all business houses. It read : 

" Miss Pollie Wardlaw : 

" As I have recently been in- 
formed by Mr. Bellew, Sr., of your 
outrageous attempt to inveigle his 
son into a marriage with yourself, 
and of the extremely unladylike 
and forward manner in which it is 
said you seek to attract the atten- 



tion of marriageable gentlemen in 
general, I herewith take this present 
opportunity to inform you that 
hereafter your services will not be 
required at my house. Believing 
heartily that the members of every 
class in society should carefully 
keep within the boundaries which 
must necessarily hedge that class 
around, you can imagine, perhaps, 
something of the horror of my 
feelings upon being made acquaint- 
ed with your late desperate efforts 
towards bettering your social posi- 
tion by inveigling young Mr. Bellew 
into a marriage. At the same time, 
it was with unspeakable satisfaction 
that I learned your efforts had 
proved futile, and that, to further 
the separation, and erase from his 
mind any favourable impression you 
may have made upon it, young Mr. 
Bellew is to be sent on a tour of 
the continent — immediately ! 

" Inclosed you will please find 
check for forty dollars, which 
amount is due to you, I believe, for 
your services as music instructress 
to my daughters, Miss Pummie and 
Miss Maude. Yours, in hopes of a 
speedy reformation in your conduct, 
" H. Bolton. 

" Of the firm of Bolton & Bellew, 
bankers." 



THE TROUBLES OF MISS POLLIE WARDLAW 



59 



No wonder the letter had made 
Miss Pollie very angry. It was a 
letter that would have roused the 
just wrath of even a milder-dis- 
positioned person than Miss Ward- 
law, and Miss Wardlaw really had 
quite a fine, high-strung temper of 
her own that required all her efforts 
to keep it under proper control. 

" If the natures of men and 
women were different," soliloquized 
Pollie, folding a long night-gown 
and spatting it down into its own 
particular niche in the packing-box, 
<( or if I were as thin, and plain, 
and altogether odious as Mr. Bol- 
ton's daughters — Miss Pummie and 
Miss Maude — all this trouble never 
would have been. Teddy never 
would have given me the second 
glance, and I don't suppose that I 
should have ever realized that a 
gentleman of his description existed 
at all. ! ' 

Miss Wardlaw walked up to her 
mirror and contemplated herself 
critically : 

" Now, if I were ambitious and 
had manoeuvred to catch — odious 
word— a rich Mian's son, Mr. Bol- 
ton's effusion would not be so much 
out of reason. But when I remem- 
ber, as I well do remember, the 
way Teddy followed me up and 



persisted in offering me his atten- 
tions in the very face and eyes of 
everybody, it seems hard that I 
should be the target at which evil- 
minded people can aim such con- 
temptible arrows as the ones Mr. 
Bolton shoots at me in his letter." 

Pollie still stared at the reflection 
she saw in the mirror. Perhaps it 
interested her ; perhaps not. Any- 
way, she was still looking reflectively 
at the indignant young face before 
her, when a little tap came on her 
bedroom door, and the little maid- 
of-all-work cried out : 

" A gentleman in the parlour to 
see you, Miss Wardlaw." 

Pollie straightened her collar and 
went down. Bellew came forward 
to meet her as she entered the 
room. 

" Oh, Pollie ! " 

'' I'm awfully yexed," said she, 
going directly to him. " Teddy, 
what made you come here ? " 

"What made me?" cried Bellew, 
opening his eyes. " Why, you did. 
Don't you know, Pollie, that you 
are the magnet that draws me in 
this direction, and, for that matter, 
could draw me anywhere you chose 
to?" 

Pollie pretended that she didn't 
hear, 



6o 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY. 



"I'm going away, Teddy," said 
she, somewhat irrelevantly. 

" I am certain to go with you, 
then." 

" Not you," cried Polly, quickly. 
" I am going simply to be rid of 
you, sir." 

" What a little vixen it is ! " said 
Bellew, slipping an arm about her 
waist. "And what land does it 
intend to fly away to, and when is 
the flitting to take place ? I have 
read somewhere that migratory 
birds have certain seasons in the 
year for travelling. I suppose Pollie 
Wardlaw has the same ? " 

" Do you know," said Pollie, 
suddenly, beginning to cry, " that 
your Mr. Bolton is the meanest — 
the very meanest — creature on top 
of the whole earth ? " 

" Bolton ! " ejaculated Bellew, 
surprised. " What has Bolton to 
do with us ? " 

" And he has written the worst 
letter to me that one person can 
write to another. He says your 
father is about to send you on the 
continent." 

" Well ? " 

" Well ! " mimicked Pollie. " You 
can stay at home, for I am going 
away instead, and I shall not 
return." 



" Yes, you will," said Teddy, 
with calm assurance. " You will 
come back in less than no time as 
Mrs. Bellew, Jr. See if you don't." 

" Not I," cried Miss Wardlaw, 
crying in earnest. "If you will 
read Mr. Bolton's apt remarks on 
class distinctions, you cannot fail to 
observe how vastly improper a 
marriage with me would be." 

" Who cares a rush for Bolton's 
opinion ! " remarked Teddy, politely. 
" His talk about class distinctions 
in this blessed country is all bosh, 
and he knows it. I've the best 
notion a man ever had to go and 
punch his head for him." 

" And I cannot deny that I 
should like very much to see it 
done," said Miss Wardlaw, pen- 
sively. 

"What about this nonsensical 
journey you are talking of?" asked 
Bellew. 

"What about your nonsensical 
journey ? " said Pollie. " Mr. Bol- 
ton says you have promised your 
father that you will certainly go on 
the continent." 

Bellew burst out laughing. 

"I did promise father that I 
would go away for a time, and I 
intend to do it. But as there was 
no prescribed country laid out for 



The troubles of miss pollie ivardlaw. 



fit 



hie to journey in, I have decided 
that a little tour over certain por- 
tions of the North American con- 
tinent will suffice." 

Miss Wardlaw laughed. 

" Besides, since Mr. Wopping 
has consented to take up your case, 
I should not be surprised at any 
moment to hear that he had dis- 
covered a pedigree for you, dating 
clear back to Adam's time, and I 
want to be around here when that 
happens. You remember, don't 
you, what you have promised in 
case of such an event ? " 

" Really," cried Pollie, per- 
versely, " I cannot say that I do." 

" Pollie." 

" Well, then, one isn't likely to 
forget, particularly if there is some- 
body about to occasionally jog one's 
memory," said Polly with asperity. 

" It is a little vixen," cried Bellevv, 
apparently addressing his remarks 
to the ceiling, and gaily marching 
his angry fiance'e forward and back- 
ward across the room. " It is a 
little, scolding, perverse creature, 
and I always said so." 

" You must go, Teddy." said 
Pollie, struggling to free herself. 
"There's all my packing to be done 
yet, and the carriage is ordered for 
me at half-past two exactly." 



" Tell me where you are going, 
dear." 

" Only into the country," a little 
penitently. 

"Too indefinite by half," re- 
monstrated the imperturbable 
Teddy. " Considering the fact 
that these United States of America 
run pretty much all to country, 
don't you think yourself, dear, that 
your answer is just a trifle too 
vague ? Try and fix the exact 
locality, love." 

" If you really must know," cried 
Miss Pollie, " I can soon tell you." 

" I really must, then," said 
Bellew. 

" Because I've made up my mind, 
Teddy, that, come what may, I 
won't write to you, or see you, after 
to-day. Those odious people of 
yours, and Mr. Bolton " 

Bellew took her by the hand and 
led her to a seat. He had never 
seen Pollie out of temper before, 
and he did not quite know how to 
manage this phase of her nature. 
" Haven't I told you often enough," 
he said, gently, " that I want you to 
wed ? Are you not my betrothed 
wife, Pollie, and have I not a little 
right to know where you intend 
going in the present instance ?" 

"Oh, it isn't that," cried Miss 



6 2 



THE ROSEWOOD TRAGEDY. 



Pollie, her anger giving way suddenly 
to tears again. 
" What then ? " 

" It is the knowledge that I am a 
nobody, and always was a nobody, 
and must always stay a nobody," 
cried Miss Wardlaw, hiding her wet 
face in her lover's bosom. " Teddy, 
I can never be your wife. Never ! 
never ! never ! " 

" Never is a very long time, Pollie, 
and I'm certain that you will consent 
to marry me sooner than that. No- 
body but Pollie Wardlaw herself 
hinders me from having a wife now," 
said Bellew. 

" It is very hard to bear, Teddy, 
but I can never forgive your father 
and Mr. Bolton — never ; and I am 
going away where they cannot even 
hear of me." 

" Where will you go, dear ? " 

" Don't tell, Teddy," said Pollie, 
wiping her wet eyes, "but actually, 
I am going as companion to an in- 
valid lady who leaves the city at 
two o'clock for Old Point Comfort. 
I anticipate a heavenly time." 

" Oh, yes, a perfectly gorgeous 
time. It will be a picnic and a 
carnival all in one," groaned 
Bellew. 

" She said it would be a regular 
holiday for me, and the salary is 



not to be slighted. Anyway, I'll be 
away from Mr. Bolton " 

" And me ? " 

" There must be some bitter with 
the sweet." 

"You will write to me, Pollie, 
every day — will you not ? " 

" Oh, yes." 



CHAPTER XII. 

THE CAPTAIN OPENS THE CASE. 

Captain Turtle now settled him- 
self down to business. That he had 
a most difficult case on hand he 
well understood. But the magni- 
tude of the work before him did not 
appall him for a moment. The 
various theories entertained by his 
predecessors were not given a second 
thought by the great Chicago detec- 
tive, who, discarding every opinion 
but his own, carefully revolved the 
matter over in his own mind and 
decided upon the line of conduct 
best to pursue. 

This being the case, the Cap- 
tain's first move in the game was to 
quietly set a watch upon the move- 
ments of the people about him. 

Without the collusion of some 



THE CAPTAIN OPENS THE CASE. 



63 



party or parties who enjoyed the 
confidence of the two attorneys the 
detective believed it was impossible 
for the escaped prisoner to have 
eluded the vigilance of his brother 
detectives all these years. Instinc- 
tively feeling this to be true, he 
determined to first find that person 
who played the part of the friendly 
spy, and who faithfully transmitted 
to Mrs. Rokewood every move in 
the game of pursuit. 

He believed Matthew Bane to be 
this friend. 

Accordingly he not only took up 
his residence in the gloomy house 
at Rokewood, but for this reason 
hired a sky-parlour in the old brick 
lodging-house, similar in size and 
adjacent to the one occupied by the 
poor old Nobody, whose better ac- 
quaintance he set about cultivating 
with the utmost assiduity. Bane 
met these advances with the utmost 
reserve. 

The Captain rerorted to various 
expedients in order to gain Bane's 
confidence, but all to no avail. 
Every device by which the wily de- 
tective endeavoured to introduce 
himself into the Nobody's miserable 
apartment was squarely met with 
rebuke so decided that at the end 
of a week's hard endeavour he had 



made no nearer acquaintance with 
the hidden penetralia than the out- 
side of the door that opened into 
the common passage-way. 

As this was welcome to the know- 
ledge of anybody who chose to pass 
in that direction, he could not con- 
gratulate himself upon the success 
of his efforts. 

At the end of the second week 
he suddenly changed his tactics. 
He ceased hinting to Bane that he 
would like to be asked to sit with 
him, nor did he offer his sympathy 
with ill-health or fatigue. Instead, 
he took to waylaying the wretched 
man upon the stairs, or in the 
dining-halls, or claimed his atten- 
tion as he shambled out into the 
wider refuge of the sunlit streets. 

On such occasions the Captain 
waxed confidential. He told Bane 
little stories of himself and the 
people he knew, hoping to draw 
something similar from the strange 
creature who so successfully baffled 
him. It was an unrequited confi- 
dence. Bane never relaxed a par- 
ticle : he never for a moment unbent 
from that shy, cold manner that 
seemed to be his second nature. 
He would listen patiently, but at 
the same time with an apathy that 
was only too apparent. The detec- 



6 4 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY. 



tive's best jokes never excited a 
passing interest. Always sad, al- 
ways repellent, he seemed more like 
a machine than a living man. The 
detective met Bane's rebuffs with 
perfect good-humour, making such 
changes in his mode of attack as 
his increasing knowledge of the 
strange man's nature seemed to 
warrant. 

" He isn't exactly a monster of 
ingratitude," said the Captain, one 
day, after Bane had been more than 
ordinarily frigid ; " but he is evi- 
dently a man with a mystery. What 
that mystery is it shall be my busi- 
ness to find out." 

Despairing of being invited to 
enter Bane's room, the detective 
made a wax impression of the lock, 
and had some false keys made. He 
could now enter the forbidden 
chamber at his leisure, and in one 
of the infrequent absences of the 
Nobody, Captain Turtle found his 
opportunity. 

But if the Captain had expected 
to find any clue in that poor little 
room that would lead him along by 
never so tortuous a path to the dead 
and buried past of the poor wretch 
whose mystery baffled him — if he 
expected the least shred of anything 
by which he might in time lift the 



veil that wrapped the poor, plain 
story of the Nobody's life in ob- 
scurity — his expectations were not 
realized. No scrap of writing met 
his gaze ; no old, forgotten envelope, 
with its tell-tale postmark ; no hid- 
den diary, with its eloquent pages. 
to tell the story of those long years 
of isolation and misery. 

The Captain's search was clo?e 
and thorough. Even the shabby little 
bed was carefully taken apart, piece 
by piece, and examined with a 
minuteness that allowed no further 
concealment of anything which 
might have been hidden there. 
But the whole world would have 
been welcome to the knowledge of 
all the detective found there. It 
was evident to his mind that, what- 
ever the reason was for his peculiar 
mode of life, it was a reason at 
once so profound, so urgent, so 
powerful that the Nobody had not 
dared to retain in his possession a 
shred of evidence concerning a 
former and different existence. 

Captain Turtle went through the 
shabby wardrobe. Bit by bit the 
poor, worn garments were examined, 
and as carefully returned to their 
place. 

" You are a deep one, Matthew 
Bane," muttered the detective, tap- 



THE CAPTAIN OPENS THE CASE. 



65 



ping his forehead reflectively ; 
"deep and silent and mysterious 
as the sea." 

He returned to his own sky par- 
lour, disappointed for the time 
being, but not discouraged. 

There was a scuttle-hole in the 
ceiling of the detective's room, a 
small opening through which it was 
possible he might make his way out 
upon the flat roof of the building. 
Once there he could peep down 
through the little skylight into the 
Nobody's apartment. 

He realized that there were cer- 
tain advantages to be gained by a 
proceeding of this kind, advantages 
not to be despised, and did not 
hesitate to make the most of his 
opportunity v 

By looking down upon Bane 
when the poor wretch supposed 
himself to be free from observation, 
the detective hoped to take him off 
his guard. 

PI earing the door of the Nobody's 
room open and close again, and the 
sound of his feet as they went 
shuffling over the floor, the Captain 
hastened to mnke his way through 
the scuttle-hole and soon crawled 
out upon the roof. Flattening his 
body upon the roof, he cautiously 
approached the skylight. 



He waited patiently for develop- 
ments. It was very late. The city 
clock had long since tolled the hour 
of midnight, and Bane's monoton- 
ous shuffle still went unceasingly 
forward and backward across the 
floor. 

Captain Turtle waited more than 
an hour for the steps to cease. 

" Wonder if he never intends 
going to bed," muttered the detec- 
tive, as he glued his eye to a hole 
in the sash and curiously contem- 
plated the stooping figure in the 
room below. 

But Bane's next movement an- 
swered the query. 

He went to the door, and care- 
fully examining the fastenings, 
turned to the bed. 

But he did not disrobe. 

The detective watched the pro- 
ceedings of the " Nobody" in sheer 
amazement. Never in his ex- 
perience had he met with anything 
similar to Bane's behaviour. 

The poor wretch turned down 
the blankets, and, without disturb- 
ing a single article of his attire, 
carefully stretched himself upon the 
bed, and as carefully adjusted the 
bedding about him. 

Captain Turtle was paralyzed. 

" Will wonders never cease ? " he 

D 



66 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY 



ejaculated, in amazed indignation'. 
" I've seen drunken men go to bed 
with their boots on, but sober ones 
never. Whatever else he may do, 
Bane certainly does not drink." 
He sought the privacy of his own 
apartment, and, once there, pushed 
his hands deep into his breeches 
pockets, and stared at the wall 
before him. 

" He had on his hat, his coat, 
his boots — the whole blamed busi- 
ness, as I'm a sinner ! " 

The detective fetched a long 
breath, and wagged his head with 
a thoughtful air as he stepped softly 
out into the passage. " By the 
lord Harry," muttered he, " I only 
suspected something wrong before, 
but now I know it. When men 
have no letters of any sort, no 
mementos, or keepsakes, and who 
fight shy of company, they're to be 
looked after. I have my opinion 
of any man who, drunk or sober, 
goes to bed with his boots on. 
Bane is deep — deep ! but I swear 
I will sound his depths yet, before 
I am done." 



CHAPTER XIII. 

THE CAPTAIN MAKES A DISCOVERY. 

For ten years Bane had served 
the firm of Fielding & Co., as 
book-keeper. Wopping had volun- 
teered this information, and the 
detective acted immediately' upon 
the thought that occurred to him as 
he heard it. 

He determined to interview the 
members of the firm in whose 
employ Bane had worked so many 
years. 

To his inquiries Mr. Fielding 
had said, " We can speak in the 
highest terms of Mr. Bane's abilities 
and faithfulness. In the years that 
he was with us he was never absent 
a day or an hour from his post of 
duty ; and a better book-keeper 
than Matthew Bane we have been 
unable to find to replace him. He 
was with us a long time, and but 
for his failing strength would un- 
doubtedly be here still." 

" I have some questions to ask 
you which you may not like to 
answer, but they are of vital im- 
portance," said the detective, show- 
ing his badge. " I want to know if 
he brought references to you ? " 

" He did, certainly," replied. Mr. 



THE CAPTAIN MAKES A DISCOVERY 



'•V 



Fielding ; " otherwise, we would 
not have considered his application 
for the situation." 

" Can you give me the names of 
the parties he referred you to ? " 

" I can." 

"Did you apply to those parties?" 

"We did. They recommended 
him in the warmest terms, and we 
found, in the ten or eleven years 
that he served us, that they had 
not overrated him in the least." 

" Will you give me the address of 
those parties ? Remember, please, 
that this conversation is con- 
fidential, but I don't hesitate tell- 
ing you that it is an affair of im- 
portance." 

Mr. Fielding went to a pile of 
documents that were thrust into 
the pigeon-hole of his desk, and 
selecting a card on which was a 
printed address, gave it to the 
detective. 

" Here is a business card sent us 
by the firm he came from. I hope 
there is nothing wrong in Bane's 
affairs." 

" I hope so, too," was the non- 
committal reply, as the detective 
walked away. 

Captain Turtle returned to the 
safe retreat of his sky-parlour, and, 
getting ink and pens and paper 



about him, sat down at his table to 
write, and it was a noticeable fact 
that he directed his letter to the 
firm whose address was printed on 
the card given him by Mr. Fielding. 

"Now, Matthew, my cherub," 
soliloquized the Captain, as he 
carefully moistened the flap of the 
envelope in which he had deposited 
his missive and folded it down to 
its place ; " now, Matthew, m/ 
sweet lamb, whatever there is about 
your past life that you should keep 
such a close lock on your lips as 
you now do — whatever your secret 
may be, and secret there is, I am 
certain, it will be a secret from me 
but a little while longer. By return 
post, my gentle dear, the mystery of 
Matthew Bane will be as a tale 
that is told, a mystery that is no 
more." 

However, in the fulness of his 
faith and the exuberance of his 
spirit, the wily detective reckoned 
without his host. 

He had marked his letter " pri- 
vate," and he had also inclosed his 
official card. 

The address of the firm to whom 
he had written was San Francisco, 
Cal., and naturally enough some 
little time must elapse ere his letter 
of inquiry could reach its destina- 

P 3 



63 



THE ROKEWOOD TRACED <V 



lion and be answered. Nearly two 
weeks passed ere the reply was put 
in the detective's eager grasp. It 
was a rather long letter, and covered 
several pages : 

San Francisco, Cal., 
Oct. 20, 18— . 

Captain Turtle — Dear Sir: Yours 
of the 5th inst. is at hand. In re- 
ply, would say the person you speak 
of, viz., Matthew Bane, served us in 
the capacity of general agent for a 
number of years, and continued in 
our employ until he was obliged by 
ill-health to seek the beneficial effect 
of another climate. We found him 
efficient, prompt, reliable. His 
disease was rheumatism, and before 
he left California he had become a 
hopeless cripple. His habits and 
mode of life were beyond ques- 
tion. The moroseness of disposition 
and other peculiarities you com- 
plain of were not characteristics of 
his at the time of our acquaintance 
with him. He was celebrated then 
for his cheerfulness and the resigna- 
tion with which he accepted his fate. 
He was invariably the life of the 
company he happened to be thrown 
in, and I have known him to crack 
jokes when his physical condition 
was such that he could not turn 



himself in bed without the aid of 
assistants. You ask if I can give a 
minute description of his personal 
appearance— noting particularly any 
trifling peculiarity that distinguished 
him. Let me assure you that no 
person in the world is better quali- 
fied to do that than the writer of 
these lines. We were boys together ; 
I have known Matthew Bane from 
his infancy to his manhood, and at 
any time stand ready to speak a 
good word for him if necessary. In 
person he was rather small, inclined 
to thinness, and of fair complexion, 
with sandy hair. He was not tall 
at his best, and after the rheumatism 
had settled upon him he seemed to 
shrivel up and shrink away until a 
child's clothes would have covered 
him. There is but one peculiarity 
about him, in the way of physical 
defect — which, I take it, is what you 
meant, and that is, his left hand is 
missing. Years ago, when a lad, he 
lost that hand in the machinery of 
his father's mill. As to his people — • 
Matthew Bane has none — with the 
exception of a third or fourth cousin, 
to whom he was much attached. In 
fact, he finally left California in 
company with his cousin, who is a 
sort of showman — Jeakles by name. 
The rest of his people were swept 



KANE'S DlSTkUST 



6g 



away by the cholera in 1849. ^ ou 
know, of course, since you seem to 
be acquainted with Bane, that his 
family were originally from England. 
He may possibly have relatives still 
in that country. In conclusion, let 
me say that I sincerely hope no 
other misfortune than his ill-health 
has come upon my friend Bane ; 
but if there has, he will find friends, 
and good ones, among his old 
acquaintances in San Francisco, who 
will be glad to testify in his behalf 
at any moment. — Respectfully, 

J. B. Cone, 
of Cone, Bradlaugh & Co. 

The Captain smiled a shrewd, 
keen smile, that was more like a 
flash of heat lightning than an ex- 
pression of merriment. 

He put his finger upon a single 
paragraph, as he laid the letter 
down upon the table. 

" The left hand missing /" 

As the great detective read over 
that apparently harmless statement, 
the mirthless smile deepened into a 
burst of triumphant laughter. 

" Our Matthew Bane is a fraud," 
said he, " and I suspected as much 
from the very first. Our Matthew 
Bane is no helpless sufferer from 
rheumatism. Our Matthew Bane 



has the usual complement of hands. 
Ergo, he is not the Matthew Bane 
recommended by the San Francisco 
firm. The question now is, if the 
man who now calls himself Matthew 
Bane is not the real Matthew Bane, 
then who is he ? " 



CHAPTER XIV. 

bane's distrust. 

Whatever scruples of delicacy 
Captain Turtle had felt about forc- 
ing the better acquaintance of 
Matthew Bane were now thrown 
aside. 

If Bane was personating a cha- 
racter that did not belong to him, 
and the detective now held in- 
dubitable proof that such was the 
fact, there must necessarily be some 
powerful reason for his doing so. 

What that reason was the Captain 
as yet had not the slightest suspicion. 
The mere fact that there was a mys- 
tery surrounding the poor Nobody 
filled him with a keen desire to sift 
it to the bottom, and aroused his 
professional instincts to their very 
utmost. 

Whatever the mystery was that 



7° 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY. 



Bane was hugging to his bosom, 
the detective now made up his mind 
that he would know it too, and he 
at once decided to hover night and 
day about the passage leading to 
Bane's humble rooms. 

If the poor Nobody shuffled down 
the long stairs and out into the 
noisy streets, the figure of the watch- 
ful detective crept slyly along in the 
rear, stopping far off when the No- 
body stopped, and gliding along 
when the weary shambling walk once 
more began. 

" I don't exactly understand just 
now where this chase is going to 
fetch up at," mused the detective as 
he slunk along in the friendly 
shadow of a wall, with his eyes fixed 
on the slow-moving figure in ad- 
vance of him. " But the more I 
watch Bane the deeper and more 
mysterious he seems." 

He followed him out from the 
noise and bustle of the busy town to 
the quiet of the fields and lanes. 
He lingered along in the distance, 
unseen and unsuspected by the poor 
wretch whose secrets he sought, 
until he had seen the shambling 
figure disappear down the winding 
road that led to Rokewood Chapel. 

The Captain waited about until 
Bane returned. Night had settled 



silently down upon the fields and 
landscape as that poor, crouching 
figure came once more up the road 
that led to the town. The detec- 
tive took up his silent march, and 
followed the shuffling footsteps as 
they shuffled their weary way to- 
wards the dreary lodgings. 

The detective watched the droop- 
ing frame as it at last turned into 
the narrow passage and mounted 
the dark staircase. 

Slipping into a convenient drug 
shop he purchased a bottle of drops, 
and hastily followed up the stairs 
after the retreating figure. 

He approached Bane's door and 
gave a vigorous knock. 

There was no reply. 

The Captain rapped again, louder 
than before, and so roughly that the 
door rattled on its hinges. 

" Who is there ? " asked a muffled 
voice. 

" I am," cried the detective ; " let 
me in." 

" What do you want ? " asked 
Bane. 

" Want ? " ejaculated the Captain 
in a tone of simulated indignation. 
" Now that is a pretty question, isn't 
it ? I want to see you, and you've 
no objection to that, I hope." 

" Thank you ; I wish to be alone.' 5 



BANE'S DISTRUST 



71 



" The deuce you do !" retorted the 
detective. " But you can't always 
have what yoa most desire. Do 
you know that ? " 

The Nobody did not reply. 

" And if you don't open the door 
I'll burst it in," said the detective, 
firmly. " I tell you that I am bound 
to see you." And he emphasized 
his words by giving the door a blow 
that threatened to split the panels. 

\ key turned in the lock, a bolt 
shot suddenly back into its socket, 
the door opened slightly, and the 
thin form of the Nobody stepped 
quickly into the passage. 

" What is your business with 
me ? " said he in a husky whisper. 
" What have I done that you should 
force yourself upon my notice and 
claim my attention ? Begone, and 
leave me to my loneliness. I am 
happier so." 

The clouded rays of the night- 
lamp swinging from the dingy ceil- 
ing in the passage fell upon the 
drooping form and made strange, 
fantastic shadows on the wall. 

" Now, see here, Bane," said Cap- 
tain Turtle, in a conciliatory tone, 
" don't get up on your high heels 
because a chap wants to do you a 
good turn. Be social — for I'm lone- 
some — and ask me in to sit with you." 



Bane carefully locked his door, 
and put the key in his pocket. 

" If that is what you want, you 
had better go. Matthew Bine a„-!;s 
no one to share his room with him." 

He shook as with an ague, as the 
chill air swept through the passage. 
The rays of the lamp fell upon the 
upturned face, and the detective 
could not but notice how cadaverous 
and pinched it had grown in a little 
while. 

" I have fetched you a bottle of 
medicine Mr. Wopping sends, with 
his request that you give it a trial." 

Bane reached out a fragile hand 
and took the hottle. 

" Mr. Wopping is very kind," he 
said, with cold politeness ; " but 
you, Captain Turtle, are unneces- 
sarily attentive. I could have waited 
for this until the attorney himself 
gave it to me." 

The Captain planted his back 
squarely against the wall, and looked 
at Bane. 

" See here, now. You are pre- 
judiced against me, and have been 
ever since Wiverly was so unfor- 
tunate as to disclose my business to 
you," said the Captain, in an injured 
tone. " Just because you have taken 
a fancy to espouse the cause of that 
wretched Mrs. Rokewood, and that 



72 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY 



I am engaged in trying to find her 
and bring her back here to her 
home and her friends, you fly up 
and treat me as if I were a ruffian 
of the worst order. It isn't fair, 
Bane ; upon my soul, it isn't." 

A shudder ran over the attenu- 
ated figure of the Nobody. He 
glanced at the stout form of the 
detective, and made a gesture of 
disgust. 

" It is not for Matthew Bane to 
argue the question of right and 
wrong with you," said he, feebly ; 
" not for Matthew Bane. I can 
only hope and pray and believe that 
some time — in the fulness of God's 
eternal mercy and justice — the in- 
nocence of that unhappy creature 
will be made clear to the world as it 
is to me now. AVith you it is a 
question of money. For money 
you set yourself like a sleuth-hound 
upon the track of a wronged and 
wretched creature, with the full 
knowledge of the fact that when you 
yield her up to the law the conse- 
quence will be the sacrifice of her life. 
Feeling as I do about this matter, 
there is small wonder that I regard 
your efforts with the horror they 
deserve." 

" What if I were tQ tell you, Bane, 
that there b i;o - .v a faint hope of 



establishing the innocence you have 
such faith in ? " said the detective, 
lightly. "A\ T hat if I were to tell 
you that we believe there is a wit- 
ness who may be brought to testify 
to the fact that Catherine Rokewood's 
pistol never discharged the bullet that 
took the life of her husband I " 

" Why talk of impossibilities, 
Captain ? " cried Bane, hoarsely. 

" There is no impossibility about 
it," returned the detective, calmly. 
" I tell you there is a witness who 
could do and who will do it, pro- 
viding the proper pressure is put 
upon him and he is made to do it. 
I'll say right now, Bane, that you 
will see the day when you will want 
to take my hand and say, Captain, 
I have wronged you. So surely as 
the sun shines, I shall prove to the 
whole world the innocence of the 
wronged Catherine Rokewood." 

A deep, tremulous sigh shojk 
the bosom of Matthew Bane. 

"In that time, if it ever comes, 
and I live to see it, I will go 
down upon my knees and kiss the 
dust from your feet," cried Bane, 
greatly agitated. " But why talk of 
that now? Go away and leave me, 
for I would be alone." 

He had moved gradually away 
from the door of his room, and now 



Jf/SS POLLIE WARDLAW TO MR. BELLE IV, JR. 



73 



crouched in the shadow of the stair- 
case, his thin fingers clutching at 
the railing that wound down its 
cavernous depths to the street be- 
low. As he crouched there, the 
(looping figure — the pinched, ca- 
daverous face, on which death had 
already set his seal — the trembling, 
shrinking manner made a picture 
so powerful, so impressive, that, 
moved by some indefinable impulse, 
the wily detective advanced upon 
it. 

" Bane," cried he, as he started 
forward, " what and who are you ? 
Tell me, for I will know your 
secret." 

" My secret ! " cried the outcast, 
shrinking still closer to the shadowy 
wall. " It is false ! Who says I 
have a secret ? " 

" I say it," cried the Captain, 
clutching at the trembling form. 
'• I say it, Matthew Bane. Why 
this disguise, this long concealment 
of your own identity ? " 

But there was no response. The 
Nobody dropped silently down into 
the friendly darkness of the stair- 
case, and a moment later was swal- 
lowed up in the endless ebb and 
Cow of the roaring streets. 



CHAPTER XV 

miss pollie wardlaw to mr. 
bellew, jr. 

Old Point Comfort, Va., 
Oct. 1 8, 1 8— . 

My own dear Teddy : 

At last I find myself recovered 
sufficiently from the fatigues of my 
recent journey to write you a little 
letter, trusting that in the never- 
failing goodness of your disposition 
you have long since forgiven the 
slight ebullition of ill-temper on my 
part which characterized our last 
interview in the city. 

I am well aware of the fact that 
I promised faithfully to write you 
immediately upon arriving at our 
journey's end, but I found it impos- 
sible to do so on account of Miss 
Pennyfeather's many whims. Miss 
Pennyfeather, you know, is "the in- 
valid lady to whom I am acting as 
companion, nurse, etc., and the 
situation, I may here remark, is 
anything but the sinecure I had 
supposed it would be. But let me 
not complain ; rather let me rejoice 
at the change. For when I remem- 
ber the disadvantages under which a 
poor young girl labours in what would 



74 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY 



otherwise have proved a more agree- 
able employment than the situation 
of companion to a whimsical lady — 
disadvantages which render it pos- 
sible for her to receive such letters 
as the one Mr. Bolton went to the 
trouble to write me — to be re- 
moved from the possibility of a 
repetition of the insult is to be con- 
sidered a matter for congratulation. 
So congratulate me now, Teddy 
dear, upon the change in my cir- 
cumstances, and behold me coming 
and going at the beck and call of 
Miss Pennyfeather, with whatever 
stock of patience there is at my 
command. If I sometimes wish — 
as I frequently do wish— that my 
lady would be a trifle more reason- 
able in her demands upon my time 
and my attention, don't argue from 
this that your poor Pollie is capricious 
and too difficult to please in a 
situation. 

If I feel — as I often do feel — 
that the amazing ignorance and in- 
difference displayed by some people 
for the divine art of music is a desir- 
able indifference — a desirable ignor- 
ance — remember that these feelings 
are only evoked at such times as I 
have found myself hour after hour 
at the piano, pounding out hideous 
accompaniments to the English and 



Italian ballads that my voice 
screeched into the deaf ears of a 
music-mad mistress. 

If I occasionally think, as I do 
think, that the possessor cf an 
obnoxious and altogether hateful 
idiosyncrasy is not to be pitied so 
much as are the persons who are 
obliged for hire to endure the hourly 
penance of having that obnoxious 
and hateful idiosyncrasy flaunted 
eternally before them — and at them 
— let your mind turn for a moment 
upon the subject of the hideous and 
disagreeable Scotch pugs, without 
which no lady is a fashionable lady 
at the present time. And having 
done this, know that of all the 
horrid, abominable creatures of the 
pug species, the very worst speci- 
men of the whole race adorns the 
foot of Miss Pennyfeather's bed in 
the night-time, and rides aloft on 
the seat beside her when she 
takes her airing during the day. 
Plating pug dogs as earnestly as I 
do, you can imagine what my fe, 1- 
ings must be when Pollie is directed 
to give Fido his perfumed bath at 
twelve by the clock exactly ; or lo 
take the " dear little darling " for a 
stroll on the beach ; cr tuck him 
snugly under his blankets for a 
" beauty sleep " in the early morn- 



JI//SS P0LL1E WARD LAW TO MR. BELLE J I', JR. 



75 



ing. But there is compensation, 
my own. I am far removed from 
your Mr. Bolton and his two odious 
daughters — Miss Pummie and Miss 
Maude — and I am at full liberty to 
think of you — delightful thought ! 
Last, though not least, I am by the 
sea, the restless, resistless sea, whose 
waves are thundering dirges in my 
ears even as I write. 

And this reminds me, Teddy 
darling, that on the beach, where 
this same old, rolling ocean dashes 
its surf and foam, your poor rollie 
came near losing her situation as 
Miss Pennyfeather's young com- 
panion, through the agency of the 
always detestable little pug. We 
had been walking on the beach — 
Miss Pennyfeather, Fido and Pollie 
■ — you will notice that I am par- 
ticular to mention names in accord- 
ance with the social status of the 
parties spoken of — when Mr. Fido 
• — I also give him the title he en- 
joys in the fine society of which he 
is a distinguished ornament — insist- 
ed upon strolling in the direction 
of the tents occupied by a travelling 
showman. At first Miss Penny- 
feather held him well in hand by 
means of the long gold chain at- 
tached to his golden collar which 
be always wears when out walking. 



But in an unguarded moment the 
chain slipped from her fingers, and 
the refined and gentlemanly Fido, 
with a howl of delight — a howl that 
might have seemed natural in a 
baser bred and commoner creature 
— at once made a dash for the door 
of the circus tent, where it was 
more than possible the tenderly- 
reared pug might find and mingle 
with dogs of a less high and 
fashionable degree. 

This distressing possibility occur- 
red to the mind of his mistress, and 
made her nearly frantic. It was a 
circumstance not to be tolerated 
for an instant. 

" Run, Pollie," screamed Miss 
Pennyfeather at the top of her 
voice. 

I was standing at her very elbow. 
But she is deaf as a post, and, like 
all people afflicted with deafness, 
she invariably screams her com- 
mands to me in a tone loud enough 
to waken the celebrated Seven 

"Run, Pollie. How dare you 
let poor, dear, darling Fido get into 
such low company as he will find 
inside a circus tent? Miss Ward- 
law, how dare you ? " 

And Miss Pennyfeather pranced 
over the sand in great indignation, 
shaking her lace parasol and attract- 



7 6 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY. 



ing the attention of everybody to 
poor me — which was quite un- 
necessary, I must say. There was 
nothing else for it but that I must 
go inside the tent for that naughty 
dog— Miss Pennyfeather does net 
permit me to call Fido a " dog " in 
her presence — so I went inside. 
And sure enough, in the front row 
of seats, looking as big as you 
please — and acting as if he was of 
the first importance, sat Fido upon 
his haunches — loudly barking his 
approval at the various performers 
as they whirled about the ring in 
front of him. 

As I rushed into the entrance, 
up popped a little Lit of a red- 
haired creature, who stepped before 
me and says politely, but firmly : 

" Your ticket, Miss — you can't 
see this 'ere performance without 
a ticket. Jeakles deadheads nobody 
— not even pretty girls like you." 

Very few people were inside the 
tent. I could see Fido plainly, 
and there I was, without a penny 
in my pocket, and Mr. Jeakles 
standing right before me, deter- 
mined not to allow me to pass. 

" It is the dog, sir," cried I. 
" Fido ran away and came in here 
without his mistress' consent, and I 
only want him." 



" Sensible dawg," says Mr. 
Jeakles. 

" He would come, and we 
couldn't help ourselves. If you 
will let me have him I'll go away." 

" A sensible dawg, that," says 
Mr. Jeakles again, looking over at 
Fido and winking his eye, "a werry 
sensible dawg, I must say. But he 
has had the sense to pick out a 
/reserved seat in the front row, and 
somebody must pay for it. It's 
half-a-dollar, Miss. Jeakles don't 
allow no deadheads, not even 
dawgs." 

" Oh, dear me," says I, '■' it is all 
a mistake, Mr. Jeakles ; please do 
give me the dog." 

" Naw," says Mr. Jeakles, wag- 
ging his red head, " not I. Jeakles 
deadheads nobody nor nawthin. 
Business is business, Miss, and 
business with 'yours truly ' has 
been too poor here at Old Boii.t 
Comfort for me to let you have 
that dawg without paying for him. 
When a dawg knows enough to go 
into a cirkis and pick him out a 
/reserved seat, Miss, he's got to 
pay for it. No deadheads 'lowed 
round Henery Jeakles." 

It was impossible to pay for the 
seat, and equally impossible to get 
the dog. I had not a penny, and I 



M/SS POLUE WARDI.AW TO MR. BELLEW, JR. 



77 



dared not leave the tent without 
Fido. I was nearly distracted, for 
everybody was looking at me, and 
just then Miss Pennyfeather began 
to call my name loudly from the 
outside. Besides, Mr. Jeakleskept 
coming a little closer to me every 
moment, and staring in a way that 
made me feel very uncomfortable. 

'■ Would you mind telling me 
your name, young lady," says he, 
coming a little nearer, and peering 
up into my face. 

" I am Miss Wardlaw," says I ; 
" do, do, please, give me Fido. I'll 
send you the money for the seat." 

" If I didn't know it," says he, as 
if he were thinking his thoughts 
aloud, "if I hadn't seen her little 
green and grass-grown grave with 
these two eyes of mine '' — he came 
a little closer still, peering into my 
face — " if I hadn't seen them golden 
ringlets a-trailin' down over a muslin 
shroud, and them eyes, so blue and 
smilin', hidden under the dirt and 
grass and gravel of a country church- 
yard ; if I hadn't — Sairy Ann, come 
here," calling suddenly to a be- 
dizened woman who was trying to 
walk a rope at the other end of the 
tent, "and tell me who this young 
lady looks like." 

Mr. Jeaklcs slunkback, still staring 



at jour poor, unhappy Pollie, as his 
wife came forward. She turned quite 
white for just a moment. Then she 
tossed her head. 

" Pah ! Don't be a fool, Henery," 
says she, curtly. " She looks like 
enough, but it can't be her. Lydia's 
child has been dust and ashes this 
many a year, so come along with 
me about your business. Give her 
the dratted dawg and let her go. 
The performances must not be 
interrupted in this kind of 
way." 

Mr. Jeakles fetched Fido and put 
him in my arms without a word. 
Miss Pennyfeather was calling now 
louder than ever, and I hurried to 
the place of exit. Mr. Jeakles fol- 
lowed me quite to the door, all the 
time looking intently in my face, 
and muttering his thoughts aloud. 
" Good-bye, Miss," said he, as I sped 
out of the doorway. " Good-bye, 
young lady. I'm glad I've seen you, 
though the sight of you has made 
my heart ache. You make me think 
of a dear lost child who's been in 
heaven these many years, over whose 
grave the English daisies are grow- 
ing now." I looked up into his 
queer, homely face, and, Teddy dear, 
it seemed as if, somewhere or some 
time, I had seen that face before, 



73 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY 



Then I said : " Good-bye, sir ; " and 
Miss Pennyfeather called again. 

"All she lacks to be Lydia's 
child," said Mr. Jeakles, as if 
talking to himself, as I went away, 
" all she lacks is the little chain 
and the golden filbert." 

I was so startled when he said 
that — for how should Mr. Jeakles 
know anything about a chain and a 
filbert ornament — that I trembled 
like a leaf, and would have asked 
him some questions then and there, 
but that Miss Pennyfeather imme- 
diately pounced upon me, and, 
seizing her darling dog, began 
scolding me for my carelessness at 
the very top of her voice ; and, as 
it is a pretty big, strong voice, I 
was soon the " observed of all 
observers " among the people who 
lined the beach. 

I barely escaped my discharge 
then and there ; but, by solemnly- 
protesting that it shall never happen 
again, I am to continue on for a 
time longer. 

Write me a long letter, Teddy, 
and be sure to tell me how you get 
on with your ever dear, kind papa, 
and the ever odious Mr. Bolton, 



and believe me, Teddy darling, ever 
your own Pollie. 

[Telegram I.] 

From T. Bellew, Jr., to Miss Pollie 
Wardlaw at Villa Hampton, Va. 

October 20, 18 — 
My dearest One, — Your letter 
contains information of vital im- 
portance. Mr. Wopping entreats 
you to lose no time in interviewing 
Mr. Jeakles on the subject of the 
chain and ornament. By all means 
detain the showman until after the 
arrival of the 10.30 train to-morrow. 
We will be with you then — our first 
opportunity. — Ever yours, 

T. Bellew, Jr. 

[Telegram II.] 

From Miss Wardlaw to Mr. 
Wopping. 
Old Point Comfort, Va., 
October 20, 18 — . 
Mr. Wopping, dear Sir, — Your 
dispatch was received too late to be 
of service. The showman had been 
gone two days when my letter was 
mailed to Mr. Bellew. " 'Twas ever 
thus from childhood's hour," etc. 
Faithfully yours, 

Pollie Wardlaw. 



CONCERNING MR. JE AXLES. 



79 



CHAPTER XVI. 

CONCERNING MR. JEAKLES. 

Mr. Jeakles' business not having 
received the liberal patronage during 
his sojourn at Old Point Comfort 
which he felt that business de- 
served, the worthy showman had 
made some haste to " fold up his 
tents like the Arabs " and shake the 
dust of the beach from his heels. 

This action, however, had not 
been done without some slight feel- 
ings of anger and just indignation 
on the part of Mr. Jeakles. It was 
not in the nature of the jolly show- 
man to accept such neglect as he 
had received at Old Point Comfort 
with anything like complaisance or 
cheerfulness of spirit, and as his 
travelling waggon had resumed its 
endless march in the gray dawn of 
the early morning for fresher fields 
and greener pastures, he had parti- 
ally avenged the slight put upon his 
occupation by turning himself about, 
and shaking his withered fists al- 
ternately at the shelving sands, the 
roaring sea, and at the cottages 
wherein thousands of careless peo- 
ple now slumbered by the breezy 
shore. 



" What folks expect nowadays in 
the show business is beyond my com- 
prehension," grumbled Mr. Jeakles 
discontentedly. " The wariety wots 
required now, by a fault-findin', 
parsymonus public, would bust up 
a richer man than me to provide 
it for 'em." 

" You had your opportunity once, 
Henery, to make your forchin, but 
you let it slip ; your a-getten' paid 
for not doing as you orter have 
done," said Mrs. Jeakles, putting 
her frizzled head out from under 
the waggon cover, where she had 
been trying to take " cat-naps," and 
speaking in an I-told-you-so and 
it's good-enough-for-you sort of tone, 
which she had discovered from long 
use never failed to highly exasper- 
ate the worthy showman. 

" What more they could want," 
continued Mr. Jeakles, in an injured 
manner, and paying not the slightest 
heed whatever to the fuzzy blonde 
head that was sticking out towards 
him from the upturned flap — " what 
more they could ask for, when 
there's Sairy Ann to walk the tite- 
rope, and turn summer salts on the 
flyin' trapeze, and me to sing my 
sellybrated fewgews on the banjo, 
not to mention the seven eddicated, 
wallvble mules in the walk around 



So 



the rokewood tragedy. 



— it's weally too distressin' to think 
about." 

" I had warnin's, Henery. You 
can't deny that," cried Mrs. Jeakles. 

" And so're I," said Mr. Jeakles, 
crossly, as a big drop of water 
plashed down into his upturned 
face. " And here's one of 'em, 
Sairy Ann, this here drop of water. 
I've a powerful strong warnin' now 
that you'll get wet soon if you don't 
keep that 'ere waggin cover down 
and put your head in a little." 

Mrs. Jeakles prudently retired 
the fuzzy blonde head, until only 
the tip of a sharp nose was visible 
in the aperture. 

Mr. Jeakles had vowed to journey 
inland and visit only small places 
where people were not fashionable, 
hoping for a more liberal patronage. 

As he journeyed along now, with 
his one weather-eye fixed alternately 
upon the dusty road before him and 
the bis; black clouds which were 
piling themselves up above him, he 
wondered if by any chance it would 
" up and rain " just at the most in- 
opportune moment, an event which 
seemed likely enough from the pre- 
sent indications. 

Another big drop came down 
upon the dusty face of Mr. Jeakles, 
followed by others in rapid succes- 



sion. He touched his beloved 
mules lightly with the whip, and 
descrying a village in the distance, 
hurried to its friendly shelter. The 
storm still hung threateningly in the 
heavens as Mr. Jeakles reached the 
desired haven, and hurriedly pitched 
his tents, making himself in readi- 
ness for business. 

Flaming show-bills soon told the 
wondering villagers that " Jeakles' 
Great Show," the very " Greatest 
Show on Earth," was now in their 
midst, and claimed a share of their 
patronage and attention. 

The wind had been blowing up 
strong and cool all day, and with 
night it changed to almost a hurri- 
cane. Mr. Jeakles lifted a flap of 
the canvas tent and peered anx- 
iously out. It was getting to be 
intensely dark, and the wind soon 
increased to a fury which threatened 
to bring the frail cloth structure 
down about their heads. 

" Here's a go ! " remarked the 
showman, with some asperity; 
" blessed if it isn't. Here we have 
been a-playin' to bad business for the 
last month, and I don't see from pre- 
sent indications that we are to have 
any let-up to it to-night. What a 
beastly wind ! blamed if I don't begin 
to think there is a Joner among us." 



CONCERNING MR. JEAkLES. 



8t 



" A Joner," repeated his wife's 
voice at his elbow; "a Joner, did 
you say, Mr. Jeakles ? And have I 
n t said so for the last — nobody 
knows how long ? But you never 
listen to a word I say — not you. I 
don't believe you're a-listenin' 
now." 

" Oh, yes, I am. I hear you, and 
I hear the wind too. Your voice 
is only 'wind' of another sort, and 
l*m used to it — if I may say so." 

" There you go, Henery ; alius a 
makin' light of me ; alius careless. 
"What with the counterfeit money 
we had passed on us in Chicago, 
and the bad business we have 
played to ever since, we'll be 
porpers yet. And it might have 
been different. You can't deny 
but what I've had my warnin's and 
my four-runners, Henery." 

" Dang your four-runners, Sairy 
Ann," retorted Mr. Jeakles, crossly; 
" dang your four-runners ! They're 
just as likely to mean the wrong 
tiling as the right one, and likelier 
too. I would not give the wag of 
my finger for all the dreams and 
s ; gns and warnin's and four-runners 
that you have had during the last 
five-and-forty years, ma'am. Do 
you hear that ? " 

" Certainly, I hear it ; I ain't 



deaf," assented Mrs. Jeakles, warm- 
ing with the subject ; " and that's 
it. I tell you now, as I've told you 
a hundred times before, that you 
are the Joner in the family. And 
you have been, for the last eighteen 
years — ever since you missed a 
forchin' by not doin' your duty." 

" No insinowations, ma'am," 
said Jeakles, "no insinowations." 

" Who's insinowatin' ? " ejaculated 
Mrs. Jeakles, scornfully ; " not I." 

At that instant a furious blast 
swept up the street, and came roar- 
ing over the little square. 

The tent trembled like a leaf in 
the wind. 

Mrs. Jeakles dropped to the 
ground in sudden terror. 

" We'll be blowed up ! " screamed 
she. " If I live to see daylight 
again, I'll certainly go and do some- 
thin' — somethin' desprit." 

" Don't be a fool ! " said the show- 
man, encouragingly ; " don't be a 
fool ! Be a leetle careful what you 
do — a leetle careful, ma'am. You 
don't know much, ma'am, but what 
you do is a damage to you. A 
leetle knowledge, Mrs. Jeakles, is a 
dangerous thing — don't forget it." 

Then came another blast, fol- 
lowed by a sudden uplifting of the 
tent, which hovered for a brief in- 



82 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY 



stant in the air. Then the canvas, 
poles, and all went whirling on the 
wings of the tempest, and the rain 
poured down in sheets. Mr. Jeakles 
found himself presently, when he had 
been landed by the fury of the storm 
hard by a stone wall, hatless, coadess, 
and drenched to the skin. It was a 
little while ere he could realize the 
extent of the misfortune that had 
overtaken him. There was a deep 
cut on his forehead, and his left arm 
hung limp and helpless by his side. 

" Blast my jolly eyes," muttered 
the showman, as he staggered to an 
upright position ; " blast my jolly 
eyes, if this ain't another one of 
them gentle zephyrs tire whole 
blamed continent is sellybrated for ! 
I've been blowed up twice now, and 
I'm alive yet ; but where's my box 
of wittles and my tent ? likewise my 
mules and Mrs. Jeakles, that dear 
pardner of my " 

" Dear Lud," groaned a voice on 
the other side of the stone wall ; 
" dear Lud, if I'm ever forgiven for 
not goin' accordin' to the signs and 
warnin's I'll do better — 'deed I will." 

"Talk of angels," muttered 
Jeakles. " I say, Sairy Ann ! " 

" Henery," cried a joyful voice. 
"Do I hear my Henery once more?" 

" Don't be a fool, Sairy Ann ! " 



said Mr. Jeakles, encouragingly ; 
" but if you're alive and sound, 
climb over this danged wall and help 
me to find our way back to a brighter 
and a drier world." 

Fortunately the storm had been 
of short duration, and no damage 
had been done by the wind, except 
what Mr. Jeakles had suffered in the 
loss and destruction of his tent, and 
such other portable valuables as he 
might have had with him at the 
time. But Mr. Jeakles was a much 
discouraged man. As they made 
their way through the darkness to 
where the light of a street lamp 
shone in the distance, he made a 
new resolution. 

"I'll tell you what it is, Sairy Ann," 
said he, as they descried the village 
inn, "I'm done with the show busi- 
ness. I'm going to abandon it for 
ever." 

" But you can't. What will we 
do to make our living by ? " re- 
turned Mrs. Jeakles, anxiously. 

" Do ! " snorted the showman. 
" Why, I'll order some bills to-mor- 
row, and advertise ourselves as the 
Intelligent Couple, and we'll go 
lecturing ; blast me if I don't ! 
There'll be no danger then, in case 
of a wind-storm, that our property 
will be blowed away." 



MR. JEAKLES INDULGES IN SARCASM. 



S3 



CHAPTER XVII. 

MR. JEAKLES INDULGES IN SARCASM. 

Mr. Jeakles stepped into the 
office of the little hotel. He pre- 
sented anything but a favourable 
appearance as he stood there, drip- 
ping with water, his face bloody and 
haggard, and with a dogged expres- 
sion upon it that made him seem all 
the more unprepossessing still. 

" Landlord," said he, " I want a 
room for my wife and I, and a sur- 
geon to set my broken arm. Your 
little winds," with infinite sarcasm, 
"are a trifle too much for Mr. 
Jeakles." 

" You shall be served, sir," said the 
landlord, bustling forward. "Is it 
possible you were in the storm, sir ?" 

" Possible ! " ejaculated Mr. 
Jeakles, drawing his stumpy figure 
up to its tallest height and glaring 
up into the face of the interlocutor, 
his bosom bursting with rage. " You 
ask me if it's possible!" he cried 
with withering sarcasm. " Why, 
man, here's the evidence," striking 
his breast violently with his right 
hand. " I'm the evidence as will 
prove to anybody that it's not only 
possible but the fact, sir," 



" Really, no offence, Mr. Jeakles," 
said the host, in a conciliatory tone. 
" I hope you suffer no serious loss, 
save the injury done to your arm." 

"Not any seris loss, thankee," 
retorted the angry showman, sar- 
castically ; " not any werry seris 
loss. Oh, no ! Nothing but my 
tent, and my luggage, and a box of 
good wittles, and Mrs. Jeakles' 
Sunday bandbox, with her best 
bunnit in it. Not to mention my 
covered waggin and seven mules- 
seven eddicated, wallyble mules. 
But this is no seris loss — no seris 
inconwenience to me, sir, at the 
present time. Oh dear no ! " 

" Dear me, dear me," said the 
landlord, "is it that bad, then ?" 

" When I think of them mules," 
went on Mr. Jeakles, his heart 
swelling with passionate rage at the 
recollection of his numerous mis- 
fortunes, " them seven eddicated, 
wallyble mules, wot alius woke me 
up in the mornin's and lulled me to 
rest in the evenin's with the sound 
of their interestin' and melojus voices 
— when I realize them seven wallyble 
mules are gone for ever — then I 
realize that Jeakles' business is bust 
up and he is a porper on the country. 
That, sir, is the size of my mis- 
forchin," 



8 4 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY 



Mrs. Jeakles, who had been tug- 
ging at her husband's coat sleeve 
for several seconds without eliciting 
any attention from that gentleman, 
now gave a vigorous pull that turned 
the little showman completely about 
on his pins and brought him face to 
face with his better half. 

" Don't call yourself a porper 
yet," cried Mrs. Jeakles, eagerly ; 
" don't call yourself a porper, Mr. 
Jeakles, for it will be your own fault 
now if you don't take advantage of 
your knowledge and rake in a for- 
chin at least. Look there on the 
wall, Henery, I tell you the finger 
of Providence is a-p'intin' the way." 

As it was a fact that Mrs. Jeakles 
now stood pointing her own finger 
at a placard on the wall, whether 
she meant by this to delicately in- 
sinuate that she had acted as a 
special providence to the showman, 
and that hers was the providential 
digit alluded to, is not known ; but 
her present attitude, when taken in 
conjunction with the feeling of great 
respect with which the worthy 
woman was known to entertain for 
her own merits and opinions, would 
seem to argue in the affirmative. 
For a moment Mr. Jeakles was 



dazed. Could he believe his eyes? 
Evidently he could, for there the 
announcement was, in big black 
letters, staring down at him from 
the wall. Mr. Jeakles rubbed some- 
thing that looked like a mist from 
his eyes, and slowly spelled over 
the words again. But there was no 
mistake. It read plainly : 

" TWENTY THOUSAND DOL- 
LARS REWARD! 

" To any person, male or female, 
who can bring us information that 
will lead to the discovery of the 
present whereabouts of 

" CATHERINE ROKEWOOD AND HER 
CHILD. 

" We will pay the above-mentioned 
reward. Address 

" WlVERLY & WoPPING, 

" Attorneys and Counsellors at 
Law." 

" Once you refused to claim that 
reward, Mr. Jeakles, but you shan't 
now," said the showman's wife, 
firmly. " I've got too good, sound 
legs of my own this time, Henery, 
and if you don't do you duty now, 
Sairy Ann knows hers, and she 
won't be afraid to do it." 



AfARLEV SEES A GHOST 



' 3 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

.MARLEY SEES A GHOST. 

It was the evening of a cool Octo- 
ber clay. The sun had gone down 
and the wind was blowing up fresh 
and crispy from the distant moun- 
tains, laden with the spicy, aromatic 
odours of the pines which clothed 
their sides. The peculiar haze of 
autumn-time hung like a smoky veil 
over a landscape broken here and 
there by the circuitous roads which 
wound like dusty ribbons over its 
undulating surface. Mr. Wopping 
was riding leisurely along in his 
open carriage, enjoying the cool 
and bracing air and the easy motion 
of his slow-going vehicle. Absorbed 
in the contemplation of the scenery 
about him — although it was the 
same familiar landscape he had 
known for many years — and en- 
grossed in the pleasurable emotions 
it called to his mind, the counsellor 
had gradually allowed the reins by 
which he guided his faithful beast 
to slacken in his hands, and they 
now hung over the dashboard, 
swinging loosely to and fro. Dob- 
bin himself paused now and then 
in his easy-going pace to snatch a 



bit of the wild grasses which still 
flourished luxuriantly on either side 
of the way. Mr. Wopping was go- 
ing in the direction of Rokewood. 
He was wanting to see Captain 
Turtle just now, and the Captain 
was only to be found at Rokewood. 
For some reason only ki.own to 
himself the detective had suddenly 
determined to exchange the some- 
what irksome boundary of his sky- 
parlour in the old brick lodging- 
house for the more elegant and 
commodious apartments which had 
been fitted up for his use in the 
gloomy house at Rokewood. To 
Mr. Wiverly and Mr. Wopping th s 
change had been very sudden and 
very unexpected. 

Captain T. evidently had his 
reasons, but he was very reticent, 
and declined to explain them. 

Mr. Wopping had ridden slowly 
along until, turning a bend in the 
road, the chimneys of Rokewood 
appeared in the distance. 

The twilight was now settling 
down on the lovely valley, and lie 
gathered up his lines, chirruping to 
his horse, to urge him into a faster 
gait. 

Rokewood Chapel was distant 
from the manor house something 
less than half a mile, and now lay 



86 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY 



between the counsellor and Roke- 
wood. The winding road wound 
down to the estate in such a manner 
that Mr. Wopping's slow-going car- 
riage had now approached almost 
opposite to the chapel, in whose 
vaults rested the bones of all the 
dead-and-gone Rokewoods for gene- 
rations back. 

He was musing on the mutability 
of human life as he glanced at the 
dark and sombre vaults which held 
them now, when he was startled by 
a piercing cry, which seemed to 
proceed from the chapel itself. An 
instant later, and Marley came fly- 
ing down the stone steps that led 
to the road. 

Evidently the poor old servant 
was wild with terror. Instead of 
advancing in a direct line to where 
the attorney's carriage had come to 
a sudden halt in the road, he ran 
round and round, describing a cor- 
rect circle on the thick sward. 

Mr. Wopping sprang from the 
vehicle and rushed to his assistance. 

" What under heaven is the mat- 
ter ?" he asked, hurriedly. " What 
ails you, Marley ? " 

" A ghost ! a ghost ! " screamed 
the old man, still circling wildly 
about the little plat of green sward. 
" A ghost ! Oh, I'm haunted ! I 



always feared it. I always said it. 
And now it's come. What shall I 
do?" 

" Hush ! " said Mr. Wopping, 
sternly, taking the frightened crea- 
ture firmly by the shoulder. " Con- 
trol yourself, Marley. An old man 
like you ought to know better than 
to give way to childish fear and 
superstition. Be quiet, and tell me 
what you have seen." 

Marley's teeth chattered, and his 
face was white with terror. He sank 
down upon the ground, and, clasp- 
ing his knees with his shaking arms, 
rocked his body to and fro. 

" For twenty years," he cried, 
paying no attention to the attorney, 
and apparently unheeding his pre- 
sence, " for twenty years I have 
kept my master's secret. But, oh ! 
I knew it was wrong, all wrong ; 
and now I'm getting paid for it. 
That awful face, that awful voice ! 
Can I ever forget them ? " 

Mr. Wopping took Marley forcibly 
in his arms, and dragged the terror- 
stricken old creature to the car- 
riage. 

" Now, then, Marley," said Wop- 
ping, sternly, " climb into this 
vehicle, and, as we ride along, give 
me an explanation of your words 
and conduct. You have said both 



MA RLE Y SEES A GHOST 



7 



too much and too little for me to 
allow you to stop now." 

Marley glanced fearfully over his 
shoulder at the gloomy chapel. 

" I saw her as plainly as I see 
you now, Mr. Wopping," cried 
Marley, hysterically. " Oh ! that 
wan face — those sunken eyes ; that 
awful voice ! She's haunting me 
for what I've done, and she always 
will ! " 

Wopping shoved the old servant 
unceremoniously into the carriage. 
" Who's haunting you ? " 
" Miss Catherine." 
" Pah ! " ejaculated Wopping, 
picking up the lines and moving off. 
" Twice now I've seen her," per- 
sisted Marley, in spite of the evident 
discredit attached to his words by 
the lawyer. "The first time was 
the night my poor master died at 
Rokewood, and the second time 
was to-day in the chapel vaults." 
" You are crazy ! " said Wopping. 
" No, I ain't," wept Marley ; " but 
I soon will be if I'm to be haunted 
in this way." 

"The dead do not return," said 
Wopping, with some severity, " and 
we believe Catherine to have been 
dead these long years. If she were 
living, we must long since have 
found her or some trace of her. 



Rest easy, Marley ; you have seen 
no ghost. It is but the effect of an 
idle imagination running riot." 

" I suppose so, sir," said Marley, 
humbly ; " but I hope to die if I 
didn't see Miss Catherine's face in 
the Rokewood vaults this evening. 
I did, indeed ! " 

" Still you persist in harping on 
that one string, Marley. Don't you 
know that nobody cf sense believes 
in such things as ghosts nowadays?" 

" Yes, sir ; but I ain't one of the 
smart ones. The fine-spun theories 
of the smart ones ain't for the u;e 
of people like me, sir." 

"So it seems," said Wopping, 
dryly, touching his whip to the 
horse. 

" Now, then, Marley," he con- 
tinued, as they rode along, " I want 
you to tell me what you meant by 
saying you had kept your master's 
secret for twenty years. If that 
secret concerned your wretched 
young mistress in any way the time 
has come now when it must and 
shall be divulged." 

The servant croucheddown closer 
into the corner of the carriage seat. 
He trembled violently, and cast a 
half-fearful glance over his shoulder 
in the direction of the now distant 
chapel. 



s§ 



THE ROKEVVOOD TRAGEDY 



" On my bended knees I took an 
oath on the old Bible that I would 
keep that secret for ever," whispered 
the servant, crouching still closer in 
his scat, "and I have kept it." 

"See here!" Wopping laid his 
hand firmly on the trembling crea- 
ture at his side. " If that secret is 
what I more than suspect it to be — 
a knowledge of Catherine Roke- 
wood's innocence of the murder of 
her husband, there is no punish- 
ment which could be visited upon 
you that would ever atone for the 
immeasurable wrong you have done 
her. Marley, you must tell me 
what you know about that matter, 
or I will cause proceedings to be 
brought against you that will force 
you to do so." 



CHAPTER XIX. 

RETROSPECTIVE. 

Like most people of his class 
Marley entertained a wholesome 
fear of the law. Perhaps if he had 
enjoyed a closer acquaintance with 
the various ramifications of that vast 
and peculiar institution, whose me- 
chanism found an able and respect- 
able expounder in the person of 
Mr. Wopping, his fears might have 



abated and have receded in exact 
ratio with the progression of the 
acquaintance. For, as with other 
things to which the axiom is applied, 
and than which nothing is truer, it 
may be said even of the law that 
familiarity breeds contempt and a 
close acquaintance with it ends in 
disgust. 

Mr. Wopping's threat was not 
lost upon the timid old creature at 
his side, though he still struggled, 
evidently with conscientious scru- 
ples, against breaking the vow given 
to his dead master. 

" I said, solemn and true, that I 
never would tell until I had his 
permission," mumbled Marley, as 
he huddled down in the carriage. 

" You must ! " returned Wopping, 
sternly. 

" What good could it do now, 
after all these years have gone ? " 
cried Marley, petulantly. 

" I shall give you no reasons. I 
simply advise you to make a clean 
breast of the matter at once. I 
wish to heaven I had suspected 
your secret at the time of the trial. 
You would not then have kept it 
hidden as you have done." 

" I swore on my knees never to 
tell it," wept the servant, wringing 
his hands. 



RE TR0SPECT1 VE. 



89 



" The law can make you speak," 
said Wopping, cold'y. " Perhaps 
if you were to try the confinement 
of a prison cell for a while it 
might help to show you the enormity 
of your offence." 

" Not the law, not a prison ! " 
screamed Marley. "Oh, no; not 
that. I am arfaid of the law." 

" You know the alternative." 

' I always told him it was wrong," 
cried the servant, falling in a heap 
in the bottom of the carriage, and 
clasping Wopping frantically around 
the legs. " I always told him so ; 
and I never wanted to do it ; never. 
But I had seen it all ; and Mr. 
Rokewood discovered me that 
awful day of the murder under the 
buffet where I had hidden when the 
quarrel begun, and he made me 
swear not to speak of it until he 
gave me permission." 

" Begin at the beginning, Marie)','' 
ordered Wopping. 

" I am," cried the distracted old 
man, " I am. It was the day that 
young Master Jerome came home 
with his bride. They had first gone 
to Major Deane's, and Miss 
Catherine's face was red with weep- 
ing when she walked into the 
dining-room at Rokewood. Dinner 
was over, and old master was sitting 



over the walnuts, when in walks lii,j 
son and Catherine. We were not 
expecting Jerome just then, ani 
old master was much surprised tj 
see him coming in with a lady on 
his arm. 

"'Marley,' says old master, turn- 
ing to me — I had been busy clean hg 
his pistols, and was just done — 
' Marley, bring seats for my son ana 
this lady, and then see about s ;m ; 
refreshments.' You see, he had 
never seen Miss Deane, and did 
not know her, and at that time 
her veil was down, and he had not 
yet seen the strange lady's face. 

" At that instant Jerome stepped 
nearer his father, and taking the 
lady's hand, says : 

" ' Father, this is my wife ; we 
were married a week ago at New- 
port' 

" ' Your wife ? ' says his father. 
"'Yes, my wife, Major Deane's 
daughter.' 

"Rokewood staggered as if he 
had been struck. 

"'Not Major Deane of T'.ie 
Willows ? ' says he, getting white as 
a dead man, and a peculiar light 
a-flashing up into his eyes; 'suie'y 
not the daughter of that M.ij^r 
Deane ? ' 

"'Yes, father,' says Jero::i:\ 



90 



THE R0KEW00D TRAGEDY 



firmly, removing the veil that 
covered his wife's face ; ' yes, 
father; this is Catherine, the 
daughter of that Major Deane. and 
my wife.' 

" Her eyes were all red and 
swollen with weeping, and her lips 
quivered now, as she held out her 
hand to Rokewood. 

" ' And she has been cursed by 
her father, and disinherited for 
marrying me,' says Jerome, ' and we 
now come to you.' 

" Old master never so much as 
noticed the hand the poor thing 
was reaching to him. The curiousest 
E-mlle began to curl around the 
corners of his mouth, and it seemed 
as if a thousand devils lurked in 
the glances that shot from his 
eyes. 

" I was afraid — I could not tell 
why. He had forgotten to tell me 
to leave the room, and I was too 
well-trained to go without first having 
an order to do so. The pistols I 
had been to work on now lay loaded 
and shining on the sideboard where 
I had put them when he ordered me 
to bring seats for his son and the 
lady. Master's eyes seemed to turn 
to them with a look that fairly froze 
the blood in my veins. 

" ' Father,' says Jerome, ' you will 



forgive me for my sudden marriage 
— will you not ? I was so certain 
of your love and your kindness 
that I overruled Catherine's objec- 
tions, and insisted on having the 
ceremony gone through with at 
once. It is a regular and valid 
marriage, and Steff and Warner' 
[two of his English friends] ' went 
to church with us as witnesses. I 
have brought you a daughter, father, 
a new mistress for Rokewood. Are 
you not glad ? ' 

" Catherine grew paler and paler 
as she looked into the terrible face 
of Mr. Rokewood. She turned 
suddenly, and threw herself into 
her husband's arms. ' Let me go, 
Jerome ! ' cried she. ' I cannot 
bear it. What have I done that 
your father should murder me with 
such terrible looks ? ' 

" ' What have you done ? ' says 
Rokewood, speaking to her for the 
first time. ' What have you done ? 
Adventuress ! thief ! ' pointing his 
finger at her. ' You have stolen 
my son ! fit spawn of a detested and 
detestable race ! you have come like 
a thief in the night into the sanc- 
tuary of a home whose very air 
your presence pollutes ! ' 

" ' Father ! father ! ' cries Jerome, 
' remember you are talking to my 



RETROSPECTIVE. 



9i 



wife ! — a Rokewood of Rokewood 
now ! ' 

" ' Never,' says his father, ' never ! 
Vile reptile that she is, Rokewood 
shall never accept her as its mis- 
tress. The divorce courts will 
soon free you from this mesalliance, 
Jerome.' 

" Catherine shrieked. 
" ' Have I angered my father and 
estranged my friends for this ? ' 
screamed she, rushing wildly to- 
wards the door. ' Is it to suffer 
the shame and disgrace of a divorce 
court that I have sacrificed my 
home and my people ? I will not 
suffer it. I have not deserved the 
ignominy you put upon me.' 

" I had dropped down in the 
corner near the buffet, and she did 
not notice me. The pistols caught 
her attention. Rokewood advanced 
down the apartment as his wretched 
daughter-in-law sought to make her 
escape from it. 

" ' A serpent ! A she devil ! ' he 
hissed, still pointing his shaking 
finger at her. ' The daughter of a 
race of scoundrels ! Do you sup- 
pose for a moment that you will be 
allowed to enter the gates of Roke- 
wood as its honoured mistress ? 
Never. Go, and go alone. Jerome 
will soon forget you, once freed 



from the hateful tie that binds him 
to you now.' 

" ' Father, you are mistaken,' 
cried Jerome, taking hold of Cathe- 
rine's hand ; ' in sickness or health, 
for richer or poorer, for better or 
worse, Catherine is mine, and I 
defy you to separate us.' 

" Old master had stopped near 
the buffet, with his hand resting on 
it, pretty close to the pistols. He 
took one in his fingers, sort of 
slowly like, but retaining it in his 
grasp, and putting his hand behind 
his back. 

" Jerome's unexpected defiance 
seemed to turn him cold all over ; 
he shook, and leaned against the 
buffet. By this time I had crawled 
pretty well under it. I didn't like 
the way old master was a doing 
with the pistol he was hiding be- 
hind him, and I didn't like the way 
Miss Catherine had of glancing to- 
wards the one that still lay there in 
plain sight on the buffet. I didn't 
know what to do. They all looked 
as if they meant murder, and I 
wished in the bottom of my heart 
that the pistols had been upstairs 
in their holsters in master's bed- 
chamber. 

" ' He leaves me — his father, 
groaned Rokewood, as Jerome 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY 



ceased speaking, ' who has cherished 
him all his life. He leaves me for 
a good-for-nothing, shameless crea- 
ture whom he had not heard of a 
month ago. Jerome, you are mad.' 

" Catherine turned suddenly, and 
darted to the buffet. She seized 
the pistol, and whirled about, facing 
her husband, with her back to old 
master. I was so close to Mr. 
Rokewood that I could see his 
fingers tremble as they clutched the 
weapon. 

" ' Jerome,' says Miss Catherine, 
' farewell. I will not be the cause 
of your alienation from your father.' 

" As she was speaking Mr. Roke- 
wood had raised his pistol and taken 
deliberate aim at her, but she was 
unconscious of his act, for her back 
was towards him. 

" ' What would you do, Cathe- 
rine ? ' cries Jerome, rushing to his 
wife's side. ' Put down that pistol.' 

" She was pointing it squarely at 
her own breast, when Jerome 
snatched it from her. Simul- 
t meously there was a report, and 
young Rokewood fell dead at her 
feet. As his son dropped to the 
fbor Rokewood threw down his 
smoking pistol, and it landed so 
close to me that I could have 
touched it. 



* 



" ' Good God,' says Rokewood, 
' what have I done ? ' 

'•' Catherine screamed and fainted 
as her husband fell. His blood 
spattered her hands, and ran down 
in a pool on the carpet. 

" Not knowing what mischief 
might be done with the weapons I 
reached out and picked them up. 
It was then I saw that the pistol 
Catherine had held was not dis- 
charged at all. Rokewood, in his 
insane fury, had accidentally killed 
his own child. 

" As Jerome fell, pierced by his 
father's shot, Rokewood saw me 
hiding beneath the buffet. Cathe- 
rine had fainted, and Rokewood 
dragged me out from my place of 
concealment. 

" ' I have killed my own child,' 
said he, in a husky whisper, ' and 
you, Marley, are the only witness 
who can testify to what I have done. 
Down upon your knees, man, and 
swear that you will keep the 
secret ! ' 

" I had no idea of the dreadful 
vengeance he was preparing to pour 
out on the poor young wife. I only 
supposed he meant to shield his 
name from the odium which would 
naturally be showered upon it 
should the story become known 



RETROSPECTIVE. 



'.»-> 



that he had killed his own son. I 
knelt down and took the oath he 
dictated. Then he says, ' Marley, 
come with me,' and I went with 
him to his suite of rooms on the 
second floor. 

" I did not think of such a thing 
as resistance. As man and boy I 
had lived under his rule, and been 
subject to his authority all my life, 
and I dared not disobey his com- 
mands. 

" Opening off his bath-room was 
a large, square closet, with two 
windows in it, that we used to store 
linen and such things in. He 
ordered me to remove all the 
articles from the room. I did so. 
Then he told me to take down 
a cot bed that he used to lje 
on sometimes, and put it in the 
closet. I did that too. When it 
was fixed to his liking he told me 
to go into the closet and close the 
door, and see what the effect would 
be. I had no sooner closed the 
door than I heard the key turn in 
the lock, and he went away. I was 
a prisoner. Mr. Rokewood came 
back after a while, bringing some 
food and wine. He told me to 
keep quiet, that he would release 
me after a while. 

" I was greatly worried, and knew 



not what to do. There the dead 
body of my poor young master was 
lying on the floor in the dining- 
room, and the wretched widow in 
a swoon beside it, and I locked up 
in that far-away closet, unable to 
do anything at all. From my win- 
dows I saw Miss Catherine put into 
the Rokewood carriage and driven 
j away. I wondered where she was 
going, for Mr. Rokewood himself 
sat on the box. I found out long 
afterwards that he had driven her 
to the Wansmore Prison, delivering 
her up himself to the care of the 
officers on the charge of murder. 

" A few days later I saw the 
hearse and funeral carriages wend- 
ing their way to the chapel with 
the body of Jerome. Six horrible 
months I stayed in that closet, and 
I was only liberated then in con- 
sequence of a sickness which came 
upon me. When I recovered 
sufficiently to go about again I 
gradually discovered what my 
master had done. I was over- 
come with horror at his crime, and 
begged him on my knees to undo 
what he had done. But he refused, 
and dared me to break my oath of 
secrecy." 

" Marley," said Mr. YVopping, 
" I shall take you up to the Cover 



94 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY 



nor's office. You must tell that 
story to him. There must be a 
pardon got for that wronged 
woman. Dead or alive, the odium 
that rests upon her name shall be 
removed ; dead or alive, her name 
shall be cleared." 

" She must be dead," said Mar- 
ley, shivering with fear. " Twice 
I've seen her ghost. The first time 
was a month ago, when Mr. Roke- 
wood lay a corpse in the library. 
It must have been as late as two 
o'clock ; the body was in the lib- 
rary, which, you know, has long 
French windows opening on a 
terrace. I went in to wet the face 
of the corpse, and there at the head 
of the coffin, looking down at the 
dead face, stood Miss Catherine. 
I screamed — I couldn't help it. 
But the figure disappeared in the 
shadow of the heavy velvet curtains 
that hung before the windows. I 
searched the apartment a little later 
— soon as I could recover myself, 
at least — but there was no sign of 
her then. 

" This afternoon I had occasion 
to go down into the vaults at the 
chapel — once a week, you know, it 
has always been the custom to take 
flowers down and strew on the 
coffins there— and as I was putting 



a wreath on Jerome's a white face 
peered out of a shadowy corner. 
' Marley ! Marley ! ' it said, and I 
recognized her again. It frightened 
me so that I was beside myself with 
fear when you drove along. I'm 
certain it was Miss Catherine's 
ghost." 

The carriage was now rolling up 
the long pine avenue. 

" Perhaps it was Miss Catherine 
herself," said Wopping, as they at 
last halted before the doors of 
Rokewood. "I hope so, for justice 
shall be done her at last." 

They went into the house, and 
Wopping inquired immediately for 
Captain Turtle. Unfortunately that 
gentleman was not in. Mr. Wop- 
ping sat down, determined to wait 
for him. Time passed. The clock 
struck the hour of eleven, and still 
the detective came not. Mr. Wop- 
ping determined to wait no longer, 
but arose to take his departure. 

" Perhaps he has gone to the 
lodgings," thought he. " I may find 
him at home waiting for me." 

But the sound of his carriage 
wheels had hardly died away in the 
distance ere the figure of the detec- 
tive was seen coming up the pine 
avenue. He was evidently footsore 
and weary, for he walked with an 



IN EXTREMIS. 



95 



effort, and very slowly, as though 
walking was painful to him. His 
clothing was torn and soiled, and 
bedraggled with the dews of the 
grasses, and dirty with the dust of 
the roads. 

Weary though he was, there was 
a triumphant expression on his 
rugged features which was new to 
them, and told plainly that what- 
ever his quest had been it had 
ended in unqualified success. He 
went directly to his own apartments, 
and, pulling off his coat, prepared 
for a bath. He presently emerged 
from the bath-room, and, bouncing 
into the billowy bed, pulled the 
blankets up snug over his shoulders. 

'•' The man who gets ahead of me 
must be up early in the morning," 
said he, airily. " I think I'll walk 
down to Wopping's office to-morrow 
and claim the twenty thousand 
dollars reward." 



CHAPTER XX. 

IN EXTREMIS. 

Mr. Wopping drove rapidly home 
and put out his horse before he 
went up to his office lodgings. Mr. 



Wiverly had left town that day for a 
little journey in the country, and 
was not expected to return before 
the following morning. So there 
was no light in the office to welcome 
Mr. Wopping as he found his way 
into the dark passage that led up to 
his apartments, and the portly lawyer 
stumbled along and felt his way as 
best he could to the staircase. 

Putting out his hand to grasp the 
newel post, and raising his foot at 
the same time to plant it firmly on 
the step, it came in contact with 
some heavy, sodden object that had 
fallen there. 

With a feeling of horror Mr. 
Wopping recoiled from the clammy 
touch of the unknown object. 

" What can it be ? " he muttered, 
stooping down and putting out his 
hand. It came in contact with some 
straggling locks of hair, and a face 
that was wet and deathly cold. 

A hasty ejaculation escaped the 
kind-hearted lawyer. He fumbled 
in his pockets for a match, found 
one presently, and striking it, peered 
at the limp creature who lay huddled 
there. 

" It is Bane," muttered Wopping. 
" Great heavens ! what can have 
happened to him while I've been 



away 



?•'' 



9 6 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY. 



Mr. Wopping quite forgot his two 
hundred pounds avoirdupois in his 
excitement, and ran up the long 
flight of steps that led to his office 
door as lightly as if he had weighed 
less. Another moment and a stream 
of light flashed through the room 
and down the dingy passage, shining 
on the faintly-breathing heap at the 
foot of the stairs. 

He quickly descended again, and 
lifted the wretched creature from 
his recumbent position. A feeble 
moan escaped his lips as the lawyer 
essayed to steady him upon his 
feet. 

" Matthew, what has happened ? " 
cried Wopping. " You are ill, you 
are dying, and here alone in this 
dark hall. For Heaven's sake, Bane, 
what has happened to make you 
suddenly so much worse?" 

Speechless, the Nobody's head 
dropped forward upon his breast. 
Only a deep, long sigh was his re- 
ply to the attorney's anxious ques- 
tions. He leaned heavily against 
the sturdy figure of the lawyer, his 
breath coming fitfully and at 
v hat seemed long intervals. Much 
alarmed, Mr. Wopping seized him 
in his arms and bore him into the 
little office. 

Then he saw, for the first time, 



that a little stream of blood and 
foam was trickling from Bane's lips 
and straying down over the shabby 
clothes. 

He put the light figure upon the 
hard, little sofa, and mixed a gl.ss 
of strong salt and water. 

"Drink this," he said; "it will 
help to stop that bleeding." 

Bane drank mechanically. 

Wopping wiped the damp from 
his hands and the flecks of blood 
and foam from his clothing. 

" Something dreadful must have 
happened to you," said he, noticing 
the dust and grime that covered 
the poor garments. " Your cloth- 
ing looks as if you had crawled in 
the dust and torn your way through 
the thicket. I find leaves and grass 
are tangled up in your hair, and 
your hat is lost entirely. Where 
have you been ? " 

" To my death," gasped the No- 
body. 

"So I should say. You look 
like a dead man now, and you would 
have been a dead man in half an 
hour longer if I had not found you 
when I did." 

" You have ever been a kind 
friend to me, sir," whispered the 
Nobody, humbly. 

" I always mean to be, too." 



IN EXTREMIS. 



97 



"Ay; kind friends are few in 
this world," said Bane, faintly. 

" You are your own worst enemy," 
cried Wopping. " You take no care 
of yourself whatever ; you live like 
a hermit, and refuse to consult a 
physician. I'll tell you what, Bane, 
I'm going down for a doctor myself. 
You must have — and shall have — 
medical attention. Gad ! it is no- 
thing more nor less than self-murder 
that you are trying to do in this 
neglect of your health. You behave 
exactly as if you wished to die and 
dared not resort to sharper measures 
in order to secure your object. I'll 
have a doctor here." 

" Not to-night ! Oh, no, not to- 
night, Mr. Wopping ! " feebly en- 
treated the wretched creature. " I 
am better now, far, far better. Do 
you not see it yourself? " 

" I can see for myself, Matthew, 
that you are very obstinate and self- 
willed. You have had your way too 
long." 

The Nobody groaned and turned 
his face to the wall. 

The mute, despairing action 
touched Mr. Wopping to the heart 

" I don't mean to be cross with 
you, Matthew," said he, hastily," but 
I would be just, since you will not 
deal justly with yourself." 



" Mr. Wopping," said Bane, in a 
whispering voice, " I do not doubt 
your motives. Believe me when I 
tell you that there are reasons which 
make it impossible for me to con- 
sult a physician in regard to my 
health — obstacles not to be sur- 
mounted." 

" You are mistaken. I know your 
reasons, Matthew." 

"No, no," cried the Nobody, 
starting up in wild dismay, " you 
do not — you cannot." 

" I tell you that I do know them. 
And they are foolish ones. It is 
only a feeling of false shame on 
your part — a feeling of false pride 
which prevents you from accepting 
the aid I have so often wished to 
give you. The reasons you speak 
of are monetary reasons. Don't 
deny it." 

" If I could only die," muttered 
Bane, between his white lips, " but 
I can't. I am cursed with life." 

Mr. Wopping lighted a fire in the 
grate, and sat down somewhat 
moodily before it. 

He was worried and anxious over 
the strange perversity manifested by 
the Nobody. That the services of 
a competent physician were really 
needed by the forlorn creature Mr. 
Wopping could plainly see, but 



9 8 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY 



Bane resented the idea so bitterly 
that, perplexed and baffled, the 
lawyer sat down to think it out for 
himself and decide upon the line of 
conduct best to pursue. 

" If you will add one more to the 
many acts of kindness you have 
shown me," said Bane, struggling to 
a sitting posture, " and help me to 
my room, I will be very glad. I 
cannot get there alone." 

" No," said the old lawyer, 
calmly, " I won't help you." 

" Mr. Wopping " 

" Because you shall not leave 
this office until you are decidedly 
better. If you go up into that sky- 
parlour by yourself who knows what 
might happen to you before morn- 
ing ? Here you are, and here you 
stay until daylight." 

Bane tried his best to stand up- 
right, but he could not ; he sank 
back on the lounge exhausted by 
the effort. " Mr. Wopping," cried 
he, weakly, " if I must remain here 
will you not push the lounge closer 
up in the corner ? I want to lie in 
the shadow of the book-case." 

Mr. Wopping rose hastily and 
pushed the lounge in the corner 
desired. 

" You always seek the shadows, 
Matthew ; why is it ? " 



" They are fit emblems of my 
life," returned the Nobody, as the 
couch rolled back against the wall. 
" What are fitter companions to my 
shadowed life than the shadows 
that now enfold me, or the deeper, 
darker shadows of the grave to 
which I go ? " 



CHAPTER XXI. 

MR. JEAKLES CLAIMS THE REWARD. 

Bright and early the ensuing 
morning the Chicago detective 
arose, and after a light breakfast 
took his departure for the attorney's 
office. He arrived in town at an 
unusually early hour, and reached 
the brick lodgings, only to find the 
shutters still closed and no signs of 
life anywhere visible. 

The truth was, Mr. Wopping had 
fallen asleep in his easy chair before 
the fire and had not yet aroused 
from it. 

However, early as Captain Turtle 
had flattered himself that he would 
be upon the scene, he found a sin- 
gular couple there in advance of 
him, who were evidently waiting, 



MR. JEAKLES CLAIMS THE REWARD. 



99 



with what patience they could mus- 
ter, for the appearance of the attor- 
ney. 

The Captain instantly recognized 
in the stumpy little dwarf an old 
acquaintance. " Hello, Jeakles," 
cried he, " where in the world did 
you drop from, and what are you 
doing here ? Are you in trouble 
again and in search of law ? " 

Mr. Jeakles wagged his big, red 
head in the negative. 

" I've had all the trouble I kin 
stand — me and Sairy Ann, here," 
replied the showman ; " we're not a 
sufferin' for any more law, either, 
Captain. That danged willain wot 
got our money in Shekawgo, you 
know, up and bust jail, and cleared 
for parts unknown, in spite o' all we 
could to prewent him ! " 

" You don't say so ! " 

" Yes, I do say it ! Wot's the 
use o' law when it can't keep fellers 
from bustin' jails as orter live in 'em 
alius ? " 

" That's a conundrum. Ask me 
something easier," said the detective. 

" We ain't after no law," piped 

Mrs. Jeakles, plaintively ; " we're 

after somethin' a good deal better 

nor that—somethin' richer and more 

attenin' to poor folks than law is." 

The Captain laughedi 



" I would like to know what that 
can be," cried the detective, sitting 
down on a bench hard by the office 
door. " What on earth, my good 
woman, is richer than law ? " 

"This is !" said Sairy Ann, whip- 
ping a crumpled hand-bill from her 
pocket and spreading it out on his 
knee, " this is, Mr. Turtle." 

It was Captain Turtle's turn to 
feel surprised. 

" Where did you get that hand- 
bill and what good will it do you ? " 
asked he, quickly. " This advertise- 
ment offers a reward to the person 
or persons who can bring informa- 
tion of Catherine Rokewood. 
Surely, Mrs. Jeakles, you don't 
know anything of her, do you ? " 

" I don't, hey?" cried Sairy Ann, 
tossing her fuzzy head. " What's 
the reason I don't know anything of 
her? Tell me that, won't you, 
since you're so awful smart ? " 

" Why, good gracious ! " 

" I daresay you can ' good gra- 
cious ' if you like, too ; nobody's to 
hinder ; but, when it comes to 
takin' in this here twenty thousand 
dollars reward, Sairy Ann Jeakles is 
the person that does it," cried the 
showman's wife, triumphantly. 

" Would you mind telling me 
about it ? " asked the Captain, 

E Z 



3fOO 



THE ROSEWOOD TRAGEDY. 



" Of course, we'd mind ! " re- 
torted Sairy Ann. " Keep a pad- 
lock on them ar lips o' yours, Mr. 
Jeakles ; don't you go to givin' 
away this plum to ary detective, for 
a forchin is in it. Mum's the word, 
Henery." 

There was a little bustle in the 
office at this juncture, and almost 
immediately Mr. Wopping opened 
the door. 

" Why, bless my soul ! " ejaculated 
he, starting back in astonishment as 
Mrs. Jeakles bounced past him into 
the office. " Who have we here, 
Captain ?" 

Before the detective could reply 
the showman thrust a card under 
the attorney's nose. 

" Read that," said Mr. Jeakles, 
drawing himself proudly to his full 
height, which, alas ! was still much 
less than the regulation stature. 
" Read that, sir, and you'll get the 
k'reck information." 

Wopping glanced at the address. 
It read simply : 

" The Intelligent Couple." 

" I'm afraid that I don't under- 
stand any better than I did before," 
said Wopping. 

" Je whiz ! " ejaculated Mr. 
Jeakles. " Not understand that 



card ! Why, good Lord ! it's plain 
as Sairy Ann's nose over there." 

" It's alius Sairy Ann's nose, or 
Sairy Ann'shair," began Mrs. Jeakles, 
plaintively. 

" Or Sairy Ann's woice," inter- 
rupted the showman. " Alius Sairy 
Ann's woice. You can bet your 
bottom dollar on Mrs. Jeakles' 
woice, gentlemen. It's all on ac- 
count of that wonderful woice o' hers 
that yours truly has quit the show 
business and gone to lecturin' " 

" What do you want here?'' asked 
Wopping, with a puzzled expression, 
and feeling a strong inclination to 
laugh. " Perhaps you had bettei 
sit down and state your business." 

" Pr'haps we had," said Mrs. 
Jeakles, plumping herself down on 
an office stool ; " but the bizness 
won't take long." 

" We've come to see about takin' 
in that twenty thousand dollars re- 
ward," observed the showman, 
calmly. 

" What ! " 

"Didn't you offer twenty thousand 
dollars reward for news of that 
Catherine Rokewood ? " cried Sairy 
Ann, bustling up, " and didn't you 
paint it in black and white ? and air 
you a tryin' to get out of payin' it 
now ? " 



MR. JI'.AKLF.S CLAIMS THE REWARD. 



lot 



" That'd be my luck," said the 
little showman ; " just my blamed 
luck exactly." 

" I did offer that sum, and offer 
it yet," said Wopping. 

Captain Turtle sat down near the 
door ; he smiled quietly and glanced 
curiously at the shadowy corner, 
where a figure had drawn still closer 
to the wall as Mrs. Jeakles declared 
her intentions. 

"Now, then, Mrs. Jeakles," said 
the detective, " go on with your in- 
formation. I don't mind owning 
up to you that I've been trying for 
that reward myself; but if you have 
a better and a prior claim to it I 
give you my word that I'll not have 
any hard feelings towards you if you 
should be the one to gather it in. 
Pitch in now and let me know where 
you stand on the subject." 

" I ain't standin' on no subjick as 
I knows of. I'm a settin' on a hard, 
round, dratted stool, an' the stool is 
a standin' in the middle of the floor, 
about four feet six inches due west' 
ard," snapped Sairy Ann. 

The Captain scratched his head. 
" Let an unappreciative world call 
you what it will, Mrs. Jeakles, 
you're a daisy," said he. 

"What do you say this man's 
name is ? " a^ked Wopping, turning 



quickly to the detective, ?nd motion- 
ing towards the showman. 

" Jeakles. He was once the 
proprietor of a show," replied the 
Captain. 

Wopping could have hugged him- 
self for joy. Here was a chance 
now to look after poor Pollie's pedi- 
gree. 

" If Mrs. Jeakles is ready — why, 
I am in a mood to hear her," said 
Wopping. 

" Not a blamed word, sir,'' cried 
Mrs. Jeakles. '•' Not a single blamed 
word, until we are told that it'll be 
paid. Bizness is bizness." 

" Now, see here," said Wopping, 
impatiently, " I have offered a large 
sum of money for certain informa- 
tion ; and if you can give me a 
clue to the present whereabouts of 
Catherine Rokewood that money 
shall be paid to you, rest assured 
of it." 

" The present whereabouts, did 
you say ? " cried the showman. 

" Yes, that is what I said." 

Mr. Jeakles' face lengthened very 
perceptibly. 

" Sairy Ann," said he, turning to 
his wife, "we're left. This is just 
another piece of my blamed luck. 
Don't it beat the dickens?" 

Mrs. Jeakles began to cry, 



102 



THE ROKEWOOt) TRAGEDY 



" I alius told you, Henery, that 
you'd keep still too long." 

" Never mind, Sairy Ann," said 
the showman, soothingly ; " keepin' 
still too long ain't a fault o' yours, 
dear, and I'll try and bear the con- 
sequences like a man. Not that 
I'm very much of a man w'en it 
comes to weight — midgits wot be- 
gins to grow too late, an' stops a 
growin' too early, can't be expected 
to pull down the scales like the 
other sort. I'm only a betwixt and 
between, but my feelin's are full 
grown, and big for their size, and 
my intenshuns ain't to be doubted. " 

" Go on with your story," cried 
Wopping, " you shall be paid for 
your trouble." 

"That has a werry encouragin' 
sound, I must say — werry." 

" Did you know Catherine Roke- 
wood ?" 

" I did " 

" More's the pity," interpolated 
Sairy Ann. 

" Pr'aps I had better begin at the 
first of it," suggested Mr. Jeakles. 

" Ey all means," said Wopping. 

"Wich takes me back to '59, the 
year in wich I first came to this 
here blarsted American country. I 
wuz in the show bizness then, and I 



came over just before the civil war 
— wich it warn't so werry civil either, 
w'en you consider the warious ca- 
pers wot wuz cut w'ile it wuz a goin' 
on. At that time I wuz the pro- 
prietor and manager of Jeakles' 
Liliputian Hippodrome and Flyin' 
Trapeze Company." 

" And you did a big business ? " 

" I must say that at first I did a 
smashin' big bizness. It was a new 
thing in this country in them times to 
see children a ridin' and a tumblin' 
and a turnin' of back-handed sum- 
mersalts, and it tookamazin' with the 
people. We traveled in wagins, and 
alius hired a woman to go 'long and 
help Mrs. Jeakles with the children 
— there was ten of 'em all told. In 
the summers we went North, and in 
the winters we showed through the 
South, and for a while we just made 
money hand over fist." 

Mrs. Jeakles groaned. 

" Air you colicky, Sairy Ann ? " 
tenderly inquired the ex-show- 
man. 

She shook her head in the 
negative. " It's them recollek- 
shuns," said she, putting her hand- 
kerchief to her eyes, " them re- 
collekshuns of bygone times— times 
never to return." 



MR. JEAKLES' STORY 



CHAPTER XXII. 

MR. JEAKLES' STORY. 

" I certingly thought it wuz the 
colic," remarked Mr. Jeakles, turn- 
ing once more to the lawyer ; " but, 
as it warn't, I'll proceed with the 
remnants of them happier times 
wich is so gallin' to my wife now." 

Mr. Jeakles undoubtedly meant 
reminiscences, but his early edu- 
cation having been somewhat ne- 
glected he was rather given to using 
wrong words in wrong places ; but, 
as he declared often enough, "his 
intentions were perfectly good, and 
could not be doubted." 

" One night in the airly autumn 
of i860," he continued, "we'd been 
a having a show at a little town in 
this werry State of Wirginny, and 
not so werry far from this here town 
I'm in now. And after the per- 
formance wuz over and the goods 
boxed on the wagins ready for a 
start, w'en w'at must Mrs. Jeakles 
here do but up and fall ill. I 
wuz at my wits' end to know wot 
to do with our little infant — we 
had one of our own then, dead 
now the poor dear — and the other 
ten liliputs, and Mrs. Jeakles not 



able to lift her head. Our hired 
help had struck for more wages the 
day before and got discharged for 
her impertinence — so there wuz 
nobody to do a thing. I wuz feel- 
ing pretty sad over the turn of 
affairs, when along comes a tall, 
thin girl with a babe in her arms 
and stops by the wagin. She looked 
like she was clean beat out with 
walkin', and she asked me if she 
might sit by the camp-fire a bit and 
rest herself, wich I agreed to wil- 
lingly enough. She sat so long that 
I finally went to her, and then I 
see for the first time that she wuz in 
a dead faint. I sprinkled some 
water on her face and she came to, 
and then she says : ' I'm a starvin' 
creetur. Give me bread for the love 
of heaven.' And I did. 

" Pretty soon she sat up, and said 
she was feelin' better, and she offered 
me money for what I had given her, 
but I didn't take a penny, sir, not a 
penny." 

Jeakles glanced proudly at his 
audience. 

"That is just like Henery," said 
Mrs. Jeakles, suddenly lifting her 
face out from the folds of her 
pocket handkerchief. "Just like 
him ; he'd give away the last bit of 
bread from his own table and not 



io4 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY- 



stop to find out whether there was 
any money to buy more with for the 
next meal." 

" Well, as she sat there a nussin' 
her babe she heard Mrs. Jeakles 
here a groanin', and going on that 
bad in the wagin that I thought 
surely every minute would be the 
last with her, and she says to me : 
' Let one good turn serve another,' 
or something of that sort. And she 
put her own child on the grass, and 
she takes up my child and soothes 
it to sleep as easy as nothing at all, 
sirs. 

" Then, sirs, she went to Mrs. 
Jeakles, and it seems like there must 
have been magic in her, for it wasn't 
but a little while afterwards that 
we were on our journey, and Mrs. 
Jeakles able to sit up. 

" I felt like goin' on my knees to 
her, but she wouldn't hear a word 
about it, and she said that if we 
would only let her go with us that 
she would not be a mite of trouble 
to us, but would pay her own ex- 
penses, and take care of our infant 
and Mrs. Jeakles besides. Well, to 
make a long story short, it was a 
bargain, and nobody knows the 
comfort that gal wuz to us all that 
winter and the next spring. I 
noticed she wuz pritty still alius, 



an' shyer nor a deer w'en we'd be a 
givin' performances. And when 
folks wuz round she'd alius have 
on her sunbunnit, and be a sittin' 
down quiet like in the covered 
travelin' wagin, or else in the dressin' 
tent where we fixed the children up 
for their parts. 

" It might a been that there werry 
shyness o' hers wich first attracted 
Sairy Ann's 'tenshun to her and 
made her 'spishion things warn't all 
right with the stranger. Anyway 
the girl didn't seem to want to socy- 
wate withenybody ; but she woiked 
hard a patchin', or a cookin', or a 
sewin' for them ten little kids. We 
boarded ourselves and traveled 
mostly in country places, and we all 
got to thinkin' a sight o' the new 
girl and her child." 

" You mean that you did," in- 
terrupted Mrs. Jeakles, with some 
asperity. " Speak for yourself, 
Henery. I alius said she wuz a 
fraud with them sly ways o' hers — 
and that ar white-livered face which 
looked more like a dead face than a 
living one. Sairy Ann, gentleman," 
said the showman's .wife, turning to- 
wards Wopping and the detective, 
who were listening eagerly, "alius 
said she was nothin' but a deceivin' 
hussy, and a trampin' good-fei? 



MR. JEAKLES' STORY 



10, 



nothin', remember that. I watched 
her from the werry beginning, and I 
meant to. It warn't my fault that 
Mr. Jeakles didn't get the reward 
that was offered for her then." 

" No," repeated Mr. Jeakles, "not 
your fault, Sairy Ann. 

" Sairy Ann wuz death on Lidia, 
gentlemen. But as I was a sayin', 
the juveniles fairly worshipped the j 
ground Lidia walked, and she was a 
mother to 'em. I don't know what 
we would ever have done without 
her that winter. It seemed as if 
some of the children were sick all 
the time, and when our own dear 
little baby breathed out its last 
breath on her lap I thought Mrs. 
Jeakles here would go up en- 
tirely. 

" It went along till spring, when 
one day a constable comes a prowlin' 
'round the tents — we were at a small 
town in one of the Middle States — 
r.nd says he to me : 

" 'You ain't got no strange woman 
in your crowd, have you ? ' 

" And I says, shortly enough, 'No, 
sir, not as I know of. All the 
women there is in this here concern 
are Mrs. Jeakles and the nuise.' 
Lidia — that is what she had told us 
to call her — wuz on the other side 
of the tent, sewing some spangles 



on to a costume. She had her bonnet 
on, as usual, but when the constable 
began to tell what the woman was 
wanted for I knew Lidia heard what 
he said from the way she acted. I 
think if he'd a seen her at that 
minute he'd have suspected her, for 
she sort of shuddered all over, and 
shrunk away in her clothes some- 
how, as though she was tryin' to 
melt away entirely. 

" ' Look here, my man,' says the 
constable, ' I'll give you some of 
these bills. Travelin' about as you 
do, you may see some one answer- 
ing the description of this girl. 
She's wanted pretty bad just now, 
and the reward is worth working for.' 

" With that he goes away. Well, 
I didn't have time to read the bill 
just then, but Mrs. Jeakles did, and 
the minute she read over the de- 
scription of the woman she declared 
it was Lydia." 

" And I was right," cried Mrs. 
Jeakles, snapping her fingers. 

"Yes," assented the showman, 
with a deep sigh ; " right for once." 

" I had been a havin' dreams 
and warnin's and forerunners all 
winter," said Mrs. Jeakles, triumph- 
antly. 

" Dang the forerunners," said 
Jeakles, sotto voce. 



io6 



THE ROKEWOOb TRAGEDY. 



" But Henery wouldn't listen to 
'em," she continued, turning to 
Wopping ; " and see what's come 
by not paying attention when Pro- 
vidence pints the way for you. We 
might have had a fortin' then, but 
for Mr. Jeakles' soft-hearted foolish- 
ness." 

"And but for what you call soft- 
hearted foolishness of your husband, 
an innocent woman would have 
been murdered by the law," said 
Wopping, sternly. 

" Well, as I say," went on Jea- 
kles, with a flourish of his right arm 
- — his left arm, alas ! was still bound 
with bandages and carried in a 
sling, being useless for the time — 
" as I remarked, Lidia seemed to 
take the alarm, and when Mrs. 
Jeakles here read the bill to her, 
and charged her with being the 
woman described in it, what does 
she do but fall on her knees and 
own up right there that she was 
the woman meant, and beg and 
plead with us not to denounce her 
to the officers. I never felt so 
down in the mouth in my life, 
gentlemen, as I did to see that 
poor cretur a takin' on." 

" Yes, and he told her she was 
safe enough for all that he would 
do towards reporting her," snapped 



Mrs. Jeakles, vindictively; "but I 
did not promise any such nonsense. 
You may bet your bottom dollar 
on that." 

A curious smile hovered around 
the ex-showman's lips. 

" No," said he, " Sairy Ann was 
death on Lidia. But Sairy Ann 
was laid up just at that time with 
a broken leg ; she broke it a few 
days before a jumping out of the 
wagin, and she couldn't stir a peg, 
but she vowed that just as quick as 
ever she could walk, or find some- 
body to tell it to, she would tell the 
story and hand Lidia over to the 
law ; but says I to myself, if Sairy 
Ann- gets ahead of Henery Jeakles 
in this affair she will first be obliged 
to find two sound legs to go on, 
and rise betimes in the morning. 
I'll leave it to you, gentlemen," 
appealing successively to the de- 
tective and to Wopping, " if I 
could turn a deaf ear to Lidia's 
prayers, particularly after doing for 
us all winter what Lidia had done ? 
No, sir ; I could not. I could only 
think of the time that my little 
child had died in her arms, and 
remember that it was her hands 
that dressed him for his grave ; that 
it was her woice a-prayin' over his 
little coffin. The bills said that a 



MR. JEAKLES' STORY 



107 



woman called Catherine Rokewooci 
was wanted for murder ; that she 
was an escaped prisoner under 
sentence of death ; that ten thou- 
sand dollars would be paid for her 
apprehension; but, dang my jolly 
eyes, gentlemen, if I could believe 
our Lidia wuz a murderess. So 
that 'ar night when all wuz still and 
Mrs. Jeakles here a-sleepin' like a 
infant " 

" And well I might ! " cried Mrs. 
Jeakles, suddenly. " I might a 
slept like seven infants, for you'd 
fixed my tea with a drug in it as 
would have put to sleep a whole 
orfan asylum." 

" Just a leetle, Sairy Ann," ad- 
mitted the showman, apologetically; 
" a very leetle — that is true. I had 
to do it to keep you quiet. As I 
was sayin', w'en Mrs. Jeakles was 
sleepin' sweetly, and everything was 
quiet, and nobody around but our 
two selves, then I takes Lidia to 
one side, an' says I to her : ' Look 
here, my gal, you're in a bad fix, 
sure enough, and I'd like to help 
you, for I don't believe you ever 
killed anybody in your life ; but if 
you stay with us Sairy Ann is 
bound to tell on you and give you 



away. You must git out of this.' 
She sort of wrung her hands. ' Oh, 
God ! ' cried she, ' where can I go, 
hunted as I am ? ' and I says, ' you 
must find a place ; ' and, with that, 
she snatches up her babe an' she 
says she'll go into the river that 
wuz a-shinin' in the moonlight a 
little piece off. I caught her 
gown. 

" ' Don't do that,' says I, ' for be 
you innocent or gilty, an' innocent 

I believe you are .' ' I am, I 

am,' says she, crying like her heart 
was fit to break ; ' it is wrong to 
take one's own life, and you must 
not do it.' ' I am accursed,' she 
cried out, again startin' for the river, 
' I and my innocent child alike.' 
' Be reasonable,' says I, ' be reason- 
able, and listen to me. Give us the 
child,' — Mrs. Jeakles had taken a 
great likin' to it after the death of 
our own little one, ' give us the 
child — I'll swear to do by her' — it 
was a girl — ' as if she wuz our werry 
own. To be encumbered with the 
babe is to make capture almost cer- 
tain, therefore, leave it with us ; you 
know we treat our children kind, 
and she'll grow up with us and never 
know the difference,' " 



lo8 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

MR. JEAKLES CONTINUES. 

"Lidia listened to reason — there 
weren't anything else she could do 
just then — an' I divided my money 
with her " 

" I never knowed that before," 
cried Sairy Ann, deeply scandalized. 
" Henery Jeakles you're a wile, de- 
ceivin' willain ; that's what you 
air." 

"An' I sez to Lidia," went on 
the showman, calmly, " ' you're 
werry tall for a woman, so supposin' 
you disguise yourself different from 
what you have done ? ' Well, she 
caught the idee immeejitly. Among 
my things wuz a little old trunk, 
which held some clothes as were 
preshus to me, for the sake of one 
who had owned 'em once, and who 
wuz the best and dearest friend I 
ever had. But this was no time for 
me to be a nussin' sentimental feel- 
in's for one as wuz dead and gone 
from a wurruld of trouble, w'en 
the livin' needed 'em, so I got the 
little trunk out from the wagin, an' 
I says to Lydia, ' Don't hesitate nor 
stop to think long enough to feel 
shame at what I tell you to do, but 



go behind the wagin an' put on the 
garments in the little trunk that 
you'll find there.' She did as I told 
her, and twenty minutes arter, when 
she came out to me, she wuz that 
changed that her own mother 
wouldn't a knowed her. We alius 
kept a lot of wigs and such make- 
ups about, and when I had shingled 
off her hair, and fastened a wig on 
over the top of her head, she might 
have escaped detecshun if her worst 
enemy had stood beside her. Bein' 
so thin in flesh, and so much taller 
than ordinary women, gave her an 
advantage in assumin' the character 
she had determined to personate, 
that with a little practice would 
carry her safely anywhere. 

" When it wuz all setiled to my 
satisfaction she accepted the money 
I offered her — and it was enough to 
last her until she could find work of 
some sort — she took a last look at 
her child and turned to go. I gave 
her a particular warnin' about her 
walk and her keeriage, and told her 
not to stand back, but to go boldly 
about wher she liked — and coached 
her on a few other little things, and 
then she wuz ready to go. 

" ' Mr. Jeakles, be good to my 
child,' says she, a chokin' down 
the sobs in her throat ; ' take care 



MR. JF.AKLF.S CONTINUES. 



iog 



of my child. All I have to leave 
her is the little necklace around her 
throat.' She stooped over the babe 
and lifted the ball that was attached 
to the chain. ' In this ball,' she 
says, ' is the certificate of her birth. 
If the time should ever come when 
it shall seem necessary for her inte- 
rests to open the ball and produce 
the certificate you have only to press 
a spring on the back of it, like this ' 
— showing me how it was done— 
' and the ball will open. But, for 
my sake, for her sake, let her never 
know the secret, unless it should be 
necessary to her happiness that she 
should be told what that paper 
can tell her.' 

" I gave her my solemn promise, 
gentlemen, and I kept it. To this 
day I do not know the secret that 
was hidden there." 

" Jeakles works on the principle 
of being once a fool— alius a fool," 
said Sairy Ann, crisply. 

"Well," said Wopping, "what 
then ? " 

" Well, sir, there's preshus little 
more to tell. As I said before, I 
gave Lidia a disguise and my 
money. And she didn't lack for 
my blessin', either, that night as 
she went away." 

" Then she did go," said the de- 



tective, a smile playing about his 
mouth. 

" Lord ! I should say so. Che 
kissed that air infant about a thou- 
sand times, and a puttin' it down, 
says she to me, ' Good-bye, Mr. 
Jeakles. You have been a kind 
friend to me in my hour of need, 
and I can never forget you. Oh, 
be kind to my child ! Don't teach 
her to hate her mother's name, and 
sometimes let her say a prayer for a 
poor lost creature like me.' With 
that she flung up her hands in the 
moonlight and dropped on the 
ground. The next minute she had 
sprung up and fled like a deer down 
the dusty road. 

" From that day to this, over 
nineteen years, if I count right, I've 
never seen or heard a word from 
her." 

Mr. Wopping gnashed his teeth 
in his unbounded disappointment. 
To be so near and yet so far. 

" Is that all ? " asked the detec- 
tive, placidly. 

" It is." 

" And this comes over nineteen 
years too late ! " cried the attorney. 

" Too late, is it ? " snorted Sairy 
Ann. "That's as I expected, 
Jeakles is alius too late or too early, 
and alius wuz, It's a trick of his, 



Iio 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY. 



and he can't help it, he wuz born 
so." 

"Can't you remember a little 
more ? " cried Wopping. " Try it 
now, and see." 

Mrs. Jeakles shook her head. 
" He's told all he knows," said she 
contemptuously, " and that ain't 
much." 

" I'm afraid, Mr. Jeakles," said 
Captain T., quietly, " that I shall 
gather in that twenty thousand dol- 
lars reward after all." 

" And much good may it do 
you ! " snapped Sairy Ann. 

"What about the child?" cried 
the lawyer. " Mr. Jeakles, that for- 
saken infant is heiress to the Roke- 
wood millions. What became of 
her, and where is she ? " 

Unfortunately, Mr. Jeakles, under 
the combined effect of his wife's re- 
proaches and the lawyer's too-evi- 
dent disappointment, had lost that 
amiable temper which seemed to be 
his chief characteristic. 

" Dang my jolly eyes if Jeakles 
knows or cares ! " retorted he, reck- 
lessly. " One thing that I do know, 
Sairy Ann," turning to his wife, 
" and that is I was a danged fool for 
ever telling as much as I have told. 
I can thank you for all of it; 
yes'm," 



" Look here, Mr. Jeakles," cried 
Wopping, in a conciliating tone, 
" don't fly off the hooks just at the 
most interesting part of your story. 
I've reason to believe you will get 
the biggest half of the reward yet." 

" Dang the reward ! Dang the 
whole danged business ! " cried the 
exshowman, crossly. " But for Sairy 
Ann I'd never have come here to 
tell anything. It is the first time 
that I ever took her adwice, and it 
is the last time. So, ma'am," 
savagely now, " make the most of 
your opportunity," 

" Thank you, Henery," said Sairy 
Ann, with a toss of her bonnet ; 
" I'll do so, and be glad of the 
chance." 

" Mrs. Jeakles," said Wopping, 
turning to the showman's wife, and 
speaking in his most persuasive 
manner, " perhaps you know what 
became of the child ? " 

" I do." 

" Will you tell me all you know 
about the little one ? A great for- 
tune has fallen to her, and you may 
command your own price for your 
information if by it we find a clue 
to her whereabouts." 

" This 'ere ' reward ' says that 
twenty thousand dollars will be paid 
to any person who can tell you 



A/RS. JEAKLES TALKS. 



in 



where that girl is now," said Mrs. 
Jeakles, smoothing her black-mit- 
tened fingers ; "and if you say it's 
a bargain, and can make it further 
intcrestin' to me by showin' me the 
colour of a little money before I 
begin, why, I'll go on and finish wot 
Henery commenced." 

Wopping laid a hundred-dollar 
bill upon her lap without a word. 

This proceeding having the desired 
effect in re-establishing Mrs. Jeakles' 
confidence in the lawyer's honest 
intentions, and therefore putting her 
talking member in excellent running 
order, she presently picked up the 
story at the point where Mr. Jeakles 
had paused, and continued : 

"As Henery says," she began, 
" we took Lidia's child as our own, 
and we had her about four years, 
or a little over. It wuz in the fall 
of '60 that she came, and I remem- 
ber that it was in '65, the last year 
of the war, that we lost her." 

" Lost her ! " ejaculated Wopping, 
in dismay. 

" If you will try to remember 
that only one person can talk when 
I'm around, and that I'm that privi- 
leged indiwidual, I'll take it kindly 
of you," said Sairy Ann, with much 
asperity. 

" Pray, go on." 



" If there is anything that spiles 
a tale, it's the interrupshins, and if 
you must make remarks, just take 
the floor now, and make 'em all at 
onct. After wich I'll kindly try to 
finish wot I've begun." 

"I beg your pardon, Mrs. Jeakles," 
said Wopping, greatly vexed at her 
garrulity. " Go on with your story. 
I will say no more." 



CHAPTER XXIV. 

MRS. JEAKLES TALKS. 

" As I wuz sayin', we kept that 
girl until she wuz past four years 
old. We thought lots of her, and 
alius treated her exactly as if she 
wuz really our own child. Her 
mother had named her Pauline ; 
but we never called her anything 
but Pollie." 

Mr. Wopping started up suddenly, 
and as suddenly sat down again, 
controlling his tongue with an 
effort. 

" And Mr. Jeakles, here," pur- 
sued Sairy Ann, apparently unmind- 
ful of the lawyer's behaviour, "taught 
her to ride the ponies and run 
hurdle races round the ring in great 
shape. She was a pritty creetur, 
and werry cute, and as Henery here 



ii2 



THE ROKEWOdD TRAGEDY. 



alius persisted in dressin' her to look 
like a wax doll just out of a band- 
box of course she alius drawed a 
crowd wherever we went. I must 
say that she wuz the best child for 
the show business we ever had 
about us, and that's sayin' a great 
deal. First and last, we've had lots 
of 'em, but Pollie wuz the cutest 
and brightest of all. We had pretty 
hard times after Pollie came to us. 
The war broke out, and what with a 
hurryin' here and a scurryin' there 
to keep out of the way of the armies 
that wuz eternally fightin' in front 
of us, or in the rear of us, and the 
hard times generally, we offen went 
into camp without enough money 
in our purses to buy a loaf of bread 
with for the juveniles. 

"We kept a-hopin' for better times 
after the war, wich had after a while 
about come to a focus, and showed 
signs of endin' soon. 

" We had stopped in B , over 

in Hereford County, and were cal- 
culatin' to stay till matters were 
decided on somehow, for we'd been 
all winter in the South, and people 
were too hard-up and poor to pay 
for entertainments like ours. When, 
as we were awaitin', not thinkin' of 
such a thing as danger, one morn- 
ing we were surprised by the roar 



of cannon, and before we fairly 
knowed it, we found ourselves right 
between two armies as were a- 
shootin' at each other, and a-yellin' 
and a-screechin' like a million of 
devils. We couldn't run. Ther~ 
was no place to run to. People 
were a-flyin' here and a-flyin' there, 
and a-screechin' and a-prayin', a- 
fightin' and a-dyin' all around us. 
Jeakles says, ' For God's sake, Sairy 
Ann, let's keep the children safe.' 
The poor things were huddled in a 
corner of the tent, cryin' as if their 
hearts would bust, wh^n there came 
a whistlin' sound over our heads, 
and Henery, a-lookin' up says, ' Sairy 
Ann — children — run for your lives,' 
and he started, and the children 
after him, and I, too, as fast as I 
could go. It was awful. The air 
seemed full of sticks and boards and 
bricks, and everything you could 
think of, and a frightful roarin' and 
screechin' as the shot and shells 
made about us I never want to hear 
agin', never ! 

" Somehow we managed to get 
into a basement close by, and the 
children with us. We warn't no 
sooner there, however, than Henery 
began to call for Pollie. Says he, 
' Mrs. Jeakles, is Pollie safe ? ' 'Of 
course she's safe/ says I. ' But I 



Mrs. jeakles talks. 



it- 



want to see her,' says he, and he 
wouldn't be pacified until he could. 
Then I looked about me for Pollie, 
and she wasn't there. All the other 
children were safe and sound, all 
but Pollie. 

" Mr. Jeakles rared like a wild 
beast, and blamed me for it all ; but 
that didn't bring her back to us. 
Just as soon as ever the battle was 
over Mr. Jeakles insisted on a goin' 
out to hunt her up. He hadn't 
been gone ten minutes when he 
came back a draggin' his leg and a 
crawlin' along on his stomach like a 
sarpent. A picket had shot him, 
which he might have expected, 
prowlin' round as he was tryin' to, 
in a enemy's country. Well, he 
couldn't hunt no more for Pollie 
then, but had to lie quiet until his 
leg healed again, and it was a deal of 
a time a doin' it, too. 

" During the next day I did what 
I could to find her ; but what with 
huntin' a surgin to dress Mr. Jeakles' 
leg, and a takin' care of the other 
juveniles, and a doin' all that I had 
to do for them as wuz with me, I 
hadn't much chance to look for poor 
Pollie. Dead men and wounded 
men and dead horses and wounded 
horses were piled everywhere, and 
it made me sick to go a speerin' 



about ; but along towards night 
some men came to where we were, 
and asked me to go up the street a 
piece and identify a body. Mr. 
Jeakles wuz stretched out on some 
boards with his leg in splinters — 
he wuz hurt that bad — so I had to 
go alone. Pretty soon we came to 
where a child wuz lyin' stripped of 
all her clothes and a sheet wrapped 
around her. The face was com- 
pletely shot away, and there only 
hung the long golden ringlets by 
wich I could tell the poor little 
thing wuz our Pollie. I felt bad, 
and showed it. But the people 
were kind to us, and helped us to 
get a coffin for her, and we buried 
her that afternoon in a corner of 
the cemetery there, and somehow 
we've never been so poor since she 
died but that Mr. Jeakles has spared 
a little money every spring to send to 
the sexton to pay him for plantin' wio- 
lets and daisies on her grave. That, 
sir, is what become of little Pollie." 

The detective was closely watch- 
ing that silent figure stretched out 
on the hard office lounge. He saw 
something that looked like a tear roll 
its noiseless way down the haggard 
face and drop unheeded on the floor. 

Mrs. Jeakles sighed deeply as she 
finished her narrative, and pensively 



1 14 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY. 



contemplated her black-mittened 
fingers, which were folded in her 
lap. 

" It never occurred to you, did 
it," said Mr. Wopping, " that you 
might have made a mistake in the 
identification of that body ? " 

" It never did." 

" It occurred to me," cried the 
ex-showman, filliping his fingers in 
his wife's face. " That is wot I 
alius believed ; for why ? Because 
Pollie alius wore her little neck- 
chain, and that air chain wuz not 
round the neck of the child we 
buried — that's why ! " 

" Some one could have taken it 
off her before we found the body," 
said Mrs. Jeakles, angrily. " This 
is just a dodge of the lawyer's to 
get rid of payin' me my twenty 
thousand dollars." 

" Indeed, no," protested Mr. 
Wopping. "The doubt is based 
on the fact that I know of a young 
lady whose history seems to be iden- 
tical with that of the child you lost 
so strangely." 

" I saw her buried with my own 
eyes," cried Sairy Ann, hysterically. 
" I've earned that reward, and I 
want my money." 

Captain Turtle now changed his 
seat to a chair nearer the great book 



case in whose friendly shade was 
concealed the poor worn creature 
he had so closely hunted. 

" I am sure that you think you 
saw her buried," said Wopping ; 
" and at the same time I am equally 
certain that you are mistaken in 
thinking that child was the child 
called Pollie. I want to ask Mr. 
Jeakles here if he supposes it would 
be possible, after this length of 
time, for him to identify that neck- 
lace and its ornament ? " 

" Certingly," cried the ex-show- 
man ; " certingly, I could identify 
it. Wot's to hinder me ? I would 
only like the chance to, that's all." 

" You shall have that oppor- 
tunity," said Wopping, hastily. 

He went to a private drawer and 
took therefrom the chain and filbert 
ornament Miss Wardlaw had given 
him. 

" Look here, Mr. Jeakles," said 
Wopping, putting the chain down o"n 
the table before the showman, " and 
tell me if you ever have seen this 
before ? " 

Mr. Jeakles examined it carefully 
before he said a word. 

"Well," he cried, "if I've seen 
this thing once I've seen it a hun- 
dred times. It is the werry identi- 
cal chain wot Lidia put round 



THE DETECTIVE SHOWS HIS HAND. 



"5 



Pollie's neck the night she went 
away. I'll take my oath to that, sir, 
and it's the werry identical chain 
wot Pollie had on the night that we 
lost her, I'm danged if it isn't." 

" To put the matter beyond the 
possibility of a mistake, Mr. Jeakles, 
suppose that you now discover the 
secret of the golden filbert," said 
Wopping. 

" Werry well, sir, I'll do it." 

Mr. Jeakles took the ornament 
in his hand and pressed firmly 
against its outer edge. 

The ball opened slowly ; a closely 
rolled paper dropped out. 

Mr. Wopping picked it up and 
unrolled it. 

It was what he had expected it 
would be — a scrap torn from a leaf 
of a prison register, on which was 
recorded the birth of Catherine 
Rokewood's child. 

There was no doubt remaining in 
his mind now that Miss Pollie 
Wardlaw was the heiress to the 
Rokewood millions. In endeavour- 
ing to establish a pedigree for that 
young lady he had succeeded be- 
yond his wildest expectations ; and 
in finding that pedigree he had, at 
the same time, discovered the lost 
heir for whom he was seeking. He 
was jubilant. 



CHAPTER XXV 

THE DETECTIVE SHOWS HIS HAND. 

" Mrs. Jeakles," cried the lawyer, 
" I have no hesitation in saying 
that I believe the twenty thousand 
dollars are yours." 

The showman's wife gave a cry 
of delight. 

"What did I alius tell you, 
Henery ? " turning to her husband. 
" Didn't I alius say there was a 
forchin in it?" 

" I object," said the detective, 
quietly. 

" What ! " ejaculated Wopping. 

" I object to having the reward 
given to Mrs. Jeakles, on the ground 
that she hasn't earned it." 

"Not earned it," cried Sairy 
Ann ; " who has, then, if I hain't ? " 

" If I understand it rightly, the 
reward is offered for information 
that will lead to a discovery of 
Catherine Rokewood and her child. 
Am I right ? " 

"Yes," said Wopping, reluctantly, 
" it is." 

"Well, Mrs. Jeakles here has 
only given information of the child 
— information which even you seem 
to doubt the correctness of." 



n6 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY. 



" I saw her buried with my own 
eyes," repeated Sairy Arm, hysteri- 
cally ; " I've earned that reward, 
and I want my money." 

"True; I do," admitted Wop- 
ping, hastily. "I know that the 
child called Pollie is not dead. In 
less than twenty-four hours I can 
produce her here." 

" You are not mistaken ? " 

" Indeed, no." 

" In such an event Mrs. Jeakles 
is not entitled to more than half. 
If you have discovered the girl you 
are the one to take a share of the 
reward." 

" I'll waive my rights," said Wop- 
ping, hastily. " Though her infor- 
mation is erroneous on one point, 
viz., the death and burial of Pollie, 
yet but for Mrs. Jeakles' testi- 
mony I could not have made the 
discovery which I have made." 

" You are a vile cheat, Captain 
Turtle. You are tryin' to get it all 
yourself," said Sairy Ann. 

" On the contrary, I'll propose 
that we go halves in the reward — 
you and I. If you have succeeded 
in satisfying Mr. Wopping about the 
child I'll engage to produce the 
missing mother." 

The motionless figure on the 
lounge now essayed to rise, and 



reached out a trembling hand to the 
attorney, as if seeking his help and 
protection. The detective walked 
hastily to the windows and threw 
open the shutters, letting a flood of 
sunlight into the darkened room. 

" What do you mean ? " cried 
the lawyer. 

" I mean to claim that reward, 
and to show you that I have fairly 
earned it," said the Captain. " You 
must have had a parcel of fools on 
this case heretofore, Mr. Wopping, 
for they have let the game slip 
through their fingers unsuspected, 
when all the while it was under 
their very noses. I mean that last 
night I saw in the vaults of Roke- 
wood Chapel the face and form of 
Catherine Rokewood. I was not 
frightened like poor old Marley, and 
I followed that face and that figure 
until I ran her to her lair." 

" Captain Turtle," ejaculated the 
amazed attorney. 

"Wait one moment, Mr. Wop- 
ping," cried the detective ; " I have 
a few words to say to Mr, Jeakles 
here, after which my interest in this 
case ceases for ever." 

" Werry well, sir," cried the show- 
man, " say 'em." 

" I want you to let your memory 
turn back over a period of twenty 



THE DETECTIVE SHOWS HIS H/LYP. 



i'7 



years, and let it find a recollection 
of a man called Matthew Bane." 

" Wich is easy," said Mr. 
Jeakles. 

" That man in '59 left San Fran- 
cisco in company with a cousin of 
his, who was a showman." 

•' Yes," admitted Mr. Jeakles, un- 
easily. 

" He was in ill-health, and a 
cripple from rheumatism ? " 

" Yes, sir." 

" He— died?' 

" Wich I hopes you have no seris 
objekshinto, since you never knowed 
him," said the showman, blithely. 

" Certainly not," returned the 
detective, calmly ; " but you spoke 
awhile ago of having given the con- 
tents of a certain little trunk to 
Catherine Rokewood, and of coach- 
ing her in a character she was to 
assume." 

" And whose bizness is it if I did, 
I'd like to know?" retorted the 
showman, surlily. 

'■That's all right, Mr. Jeakles. 
In the little trunk whose contents 
you turned over for her disposal was 
something besides clothing. There 
were diaries, letters of reference, 
etc., were there not ?" 

" There might have been," was 
the guarded response. 



" Mr. Jeakles, what was the cha- 
racter you advised Catherine Roke- 
wood to assume ? '' 

The jolly showman whipped 
quickly about in his chair, and put- 
ting his thumb to his nose twiddled 
his fingers suggestively at the de- 
tective. 

" If I wuz Sairy Ann," cried he, 
provokingly, " I'd soon tell all I 
know ; but I ain't, and Mr. Jeakles, 
sir, is sellybrated for keepin' his 
mouth shut." 

" Yes, it's alius Sairy Ann," 
sighed that poor female martyr. 
" Sairy Ann has to ketch it." 

" You need not reply if you 
choose not to do so. I can answer 
for you. I have found out for my- 
self, and further concealment is use- 
less," said Captain Turtle, firmly. 
" I now declare that the man whom 
we know as Matthew Bane is not 
the real Matthew Bane. The man 
who now hides his identity under 
the shelter of that name- — the man 
who calls himself Matthew Bane — is 
not a man at all, but Catherine Roke- 
wood in disguise." 

A sharp cry burst from the No- 
body's white lips. He sprang up 
as though he had been stung into 
new life. For a moment his totter- 
ing figure swayed in the sunlight, 



Ii8 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY 



and then fell a senseless object to 
the floor. 

The little showman gave one 
scared glance as that tottering 
figure rose up before him. 

" Good Lord ! " he ejaculated, 
"done for, after all." And then 
he huddled closer in his chair, as 
if he dared not look again. 

The Captain sprang forward and 
lifted the inanimate body. 

" You have killed him," cried Mr. 
Wopping, angrily. 

" Her, you should have said," 
cried the detective, tearing off the 
wig and glasses. " I tell you I am 
right. This is Catherine Roke- 
wood." 

" It's Lidia ! " screamed Mrs. 
Jeakles, as she glanced at the death- 
white face of the woman she had 
hated. " Look a here, Henery ; 
here's the poor thing herself. Oh, 
dear me ! That Chicago detective 
will get the reward after all." 

" Mrs. Jeakles," cried Captain 
Turtle, sternly, " this is not the 
time to talk of rewards. Let a feel- 
ing of womanly pity for this un- 
fortunate creature stir your bosom 
for a moment." 

"Give the poor thing a drop of 
brandy," cried the showman. 

Mr, Wopping wiped away the 



bloody froth that oozed from Cathe- 
rine's white, cold lips. 

He was shocked, amazed at the 
strange denouement. There under 
his very eyes she had lived and 
suffered for years. Tears stood 
thickly in his eyes as he recognized 
in this poor wreck before him the 
semblance of one he had known in 
her brighter and happier days. 

Catherine opened her eyes. For 
a moment she looked in a bewildered 
way at the strange faces about her, 
and put her hand to her head. 

The hideous wig was gone. 

In an instant it all came back to 
her, and she realized what had hap- 
pened. She motioned Wopping to 
come closer. 

" Hunted down," she whispered 
in a broken voice. " Hunted down, 
at last." 

" Not hunted down, Catherine," 
said the lawyer, gently; "not hunted 
down, hut found. Found that your 
innocence may be declared; that 
your good name may be restored ; 
that you may renew your life in 
your child's future ! " 

" Child ! " uttered Catherine, 
turning her face to the wall, "my 
lost, forsaken child." 



AFTER MANY VKAKS. 



H9 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

AFTER MANY YEARS. 

" Go for a physician at once," said 
Wopping, in a low voice, to the 
detective ; " Dr. Barnes has an office 
on the first floor, second door to 
the right. It is early, but I think 
he will be in. Bring him quickly." 

The Captain immediately left the 
room. 

" Oh, Catherine ! why did you 
not tell me long ago who you were ? 
How much suffering might have 
been spared you ! " said Mr. Wop- 
ping. 

" How could I," she said, in a 
far-off whisper, " hunted as I have 
been ? There was no one I dared 
trust with my secret." 

She made a gesture towards her 
throat. 

'• Never ! " cried Wopping, as he 
divined her meaning, " never ! Let 
that terrible fear depart for ever. 
Your innocence is established at 
last." 

" Hunted for twenty years ! " she 
said, in a faint voice, that was grow- 
ing fainter still ; " hunted for twenty 
years — how terrible my life has 
been ! " 



" If I had only known — if I had 
only but suspected your identity," 
groaned the old attorney ; " but I 
never did." 

"No," she returned ; "how could 
you ? It is better so." 

" To think that no one suspected 
you," continued Wopping, " and it 
all seems so plain to me now. Per- 
haps the very fact of your being 
here — the place of all places which 
we naturally supposed would be the 
one that you would avoid — pre- 
served your secret better." 

" I could not stay away." Her 
voice was broken, and so low and 
faint that the lawyer bent his ear to 
catch the words. " Something im- 
pelled me to return, and«once here I 
could not go. Besides, I was really 
safer here than anywhere else. I 
came almost directly from Mr. 
Jeakles' tent to the situation which 
I held so long with Fielding & Co. 
The letters of reference which Mr. 
Jeakles had given me, with the gar- 
ments of his dead cousin, seemed 
the place for me — and I felt safe. 
The sky-parlour became my home. 
Here I could know at once every 
move that Rokewood made against 
me. I had access to your papers, 
and you were my friend. There was 
never a new move made by Roke- 



12(5 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY 



wood that I did not know it at 
once. I was ever on my guard. 
Ah me I " — she threw her hands 
wildly above her head—" the daily 
terror, the hourly fear that made 
existence a torture to me. Can I 
forget, can I ever forgive, that dead 
one for the vengeance he has visited 
upon me ? He has crushed my 
heart and ruined my life." 

" Let it pass," said Wopping, 
gently. 

" Pass," she muttered. " Pass ! 
When I looked down upon his dead 
face, as he lay in his coffin at Roke- 
wood ; when, later on, from my 
shadowed corner in the Rokewood 
vaults, I saw him laid side by side 
with the dhes t already dead and 
gone; when I heard thtm say, 
' earth to earth and dust to dust,' 
the voiceless cry of my broken 
heart went up to God with a prayer 
that the shadows might be dis- 
solved." 

" They are lifting, they are break- 
ing, Catherine," said the attorney; 
" a glad new morning dawns for 
you at last." 

There was no response. 

The whispering voice had grown 
faint, and fainter still, and finally 
ceased. Sine had relapsed into un- 
consciousness. 



Assisted by the showman's wife, 
the attorney carried the insensible 
woman up into the bleak sky-parlour 
and laid her upon the poor small 
bed. 

" Mrs. Jeakles," said Wopping, 
" make out a list of such articles as 
you see are needed here. I will 
order them ; let the list include 
everything necessary to the comfort 
of this poor creature, and spare no 
expense. Make out your order 
carte blanche." 

There was a tap on the door. The 
physician stood there. 

He walked immediately to the 
bedside. 

"Is there any hope?" asked 
Wopping, anxiously, as he bent over 
her. 

The physician shook his head. 
'' None whatever." 

" If money can save her," said 
the attorney in a voice that shook 
with emotion, " she shall be 
saved." 

" I understood you to ask for 
my professional opinion," returned 
the Doctor, gravely. 

"I did— I do." 

" And I gave it. Money can do 
nothing here, except to make the 
road to death a trifle easier." 

" It is too late ? " 



REUNITED. 



121 



" Too late ! " said the physician 
with grave compassion. 

Mr. Wopping was silent. He 
turned away to a darkened corner, 
and was there weeping the bitterest 
tears he had ever shed. 

" I will say this much," said the 
physician, as he dropped the wrist 
he had taken up. " It is barely 
possible that she may rally— and, 
under favourable circumstances, live 
for a time. But as for ultimate 
recovery, there is absolutely no 
hope at all. It seems to be a case 
where long-continued privation has 
been succeeded by some sudden 
mental shock, which must, in my 
opinion, have a fatal ending. If 
she has relatives or friends whom it 
would be necessary to notify, they 
should be sent for without delay. 
I apprehend the very worst." 

Mr. Wopping took out his note- 
book from his breast-pocket and 
hastily wrote a note on one of its 
leaves. It was directed to Miss 
Wardlaw : 

"Come at once. Let nothing 
delay you. Your mother is found 
and is dying. Make haste. 

" Wopping." 



CHAPTER XXVII. 

REUNITED. 

Various reasons — the chief one 
being, however, a desire to main- 
tain a somewhat closer proximity to 
the object of his heart's best affec- 
tions — had caused Mr. Teddy Bel- 
lew to journey to Old Point Comfort, 
and there take up his residence in 
the great hotel by the sea. Mr. 
Bellew, like the obliging gentleman 
and the obedient son that he was, 
had started some time previous on 
that little tour which his father had 
directed for him. 

But, wholly unsuspected by the 
worthy banker, this tour had been 
of extremely short duration, and 
only covered over that particular 
strip of country which lay between 
Villa Hampton and Old Point Com- 
fort, a distance of something less 
than two hundred miles. 

As a matter of fact Bellew, Sr.. 
had purchased a ticket and startea 
his heir in an entirely different 
direction. The son had clasped 
his parent's hand affectionately, and 
bidding him a cheerful farewell, had 
departed, only to slyly switch off at 
a station not far down the road, and 



122 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY. 



thereafter to pursue his journey ac- 
cording to his own inclinations. 

This being the case, in the 
natural course of events, Mr. Bel- 
lew, Jr., had brought up not long 
after at Old Point Comfort and had 
taken up his residence on the sea- 
shore. 

From this vantage point Mr. Bel- 
lew found it convenient to sally out 
and pay court to his dear girl at 
such times as he could find her with- 
out the accompanying spectre of 
the irascible Miss Pennyfeather and 
the equally irascible and detestable 
pug. The watchful Teddy had long 
since discovered that Miss Pollie 
was an early riser, and invariably 
rose in time for a morning ramble 
on the beach hours before her amia- 
ble mistress had any idea of leaving 
her couch. 

As the beloved Fido was not per- 
mitted to leave his place on the foot 
of Miss Pennyfeather's bed until 
Miss Pennyfeather herself should 
disturb his soft repose, Pollie was 
thus enabled to have a short time 
every morning that she could call 
her own, 

Mr. Bellew having found this out 
for himself, it had afforded him 
much satisfaction to now rise him- 
self betimes and join Miss Pollie in 



her early stroll. This being the 
state of affairs, it was no wonder 
that Mr. Wopping's telegram had 
found the lovers together one cool 
morning in the week of what fate 
had decreed should be Miss Ward- 
law's last term of servitude. 

"Telegrams always startle one 
so," said Pollie, as she received the 
yellow missive from the messenger. 
" I'm afraid of them, and it always 
shocks me, somehow, when I re- 
ceive one." 

" Yes," assented Bellew, negli- 
gently, digging his slender rattan 
into the sand as she tore off the 
envelope. "Things done by elec- 
tricity naturally will be shocking, 
dear." 

Miss Pollie gave a cry — 

" Teddy ! " 

Miss Wardlaw was quite white, 
arid the hand that held the yellow- 
missive trembled violently. 

" Read this ; it is from Mr. Wop- 
ping. Something has happened." 

He took it from her hand. 

" I should say so," said he, as he 
rapidly glanced down the page; 
" and Heaven knows that I'm glad of 
it. I tell you, Pollie, this cuts the 
Pennyfeather question right in two. 
No more Pennyfeathers, no more 
pug dogs for Miss Pollie Wardlaw." 



REUNITED. 



\2\ 



" I must go." 

'' Of course you must go, and at 
once. The train leaves in half an 
hour. Gather up your traps. I'll 
see they are taken to the station, and 
I'll see you safe to your journey's 
end. I am interested in this, you 
know. Wopping is a stunning old 
chap, isn't he ? I felt sure he would 
succeed with your case if he under- 
took it. Remember, love, our wed- 
ding-day is now set I appoint it 
to be six weeks from this morning." 
* * * * 

Mr. Wopping himself met them 
on their arrival. 

" Let me congratulate you, my 
young friend," said he, clasping Miss 
Pollie's hand. 

" It is a matter for congratulation, 
then," said Pollie, hysterically. "Oh, 
you never can know the terrible 
things I have imagined about it 
since I received your message." 

"You have come into a great 
fortune — very great. It makes you 
one of the richest women in 
America." 

" She will be wanting to throw me 
over now,'"' cried Bellew, tragically. 

" No, no," cried Follie, laughing 
and crying at the same time ; " for 
richer, for poorer, we pledged our- 
selves, did we not ? " 



" For richer for poorer, for better 
for worse ; put it all in, Pollie," 
urged Bellew. 

" Your message said that I have 
a mother," said Pollie, in a low voice; 
"is it true?" 

" It is." 

" Where is she now ? " 

" 111, too ill, I fear, to ever re- 
cover." 

" Let me go to her," cried Miss 
Wardlaw, eagerly. 

" Before you can see her there is 
a tale to be told you," said the 
lawyer, sadly ; " a recital that can- 
not help but be a painful one to 
you as well as to me." 

Mr. Wopping took them directly 
to his office. The little showman 
sat there, his big, red head dropping 
forward on his bosom, and his eyes 
apparently fast closed in slum- 
ber. 

" Mr. Jeakles !" ejaculated Pollie 
in surprise. 

" Wich it is," cried he, bouncing 
up suddenly, and skipping towards 
her; "dang my jolly eyes! I wuz 
right arter all, Miss Pollie. You 
air the same little dimpled, witched 
creetur that I thought wuz dead 
and buried and gone to heaven 
long ago. How de — how de do ? " 

" Mr, Jeakles is one of your 



124 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY 



earliest and oldest friends, Miss 
Pollie," said the lawyer. 

" Then it was through Mr. Jeakles, 
after all, that you succeeded in 
tracing up her pedigree," cried 
Teddy, amazed. 

" Yes. Let me introduce Miss 
Pollie to you in her proper character 

—as Miss Pauline Rokewood " 

"Of Rokewood?" gasped the 
bewildered Teddy. 

" Of Rokewood ! " said Wopping, 
calmly, " and the undisputed heiress 
to nearly five millions of money. 
Your father may well congratulate 
his son on the brilliant match you 
have made." 

" I don't remember that I in- 
structed you to find a fortune for 
this young lady ; that would sink my 
prospects into insignificance in com- 
parison with hers." said Eellew, dis- 
consolately. 

" If I read Miss Rokewood rightty, 
Teddy, this great fortune will not 
separate you." 

" Indeed, no," cried Pollie, 
hastily, going to her lover's side ; 
"don't you remember the pledge, 
Teddy?— for richer for poorer? 
Oh, I am so glad it is really for 
better and not for worse that you 
will take me. Congratulate me, 
Teddy, dear." 



" I'm danged if I don't think as 
it's the gentleman wot should be 
congratoolated," remarked Mr. 
Jeakles, jamming his fists into his 
pockets, and straddling wide his 
stumpy legs. " Any fellow wot 
wins a girl like our Pollie for his 
wife is to be congratoolated, if she 
didn't have a penny to bless herself 
with." 

" As the poet says, ' them's my 
sentiments,' Mr. Jeakles," said 
Teddy, grasping the showman's 
hand, "and because you've been a 
friend of Pollie's, I say, here's luck 
to you." 

" Wich bein' of warious sorts, 
pr'haps you'll kindly single out the 
one you're vvishin' me, and say if it's 
good luck or the conterwerry," said 
Mr. Jeakles. " I'm danged if I 
want any more of the bad, if it's all 
the same to you." 

"The very best of luck, sir," 
laughed Bdlew ; " the best by all 
means." 

" Wich air accepted with delight," 
said the showman, joyously. 

Mr. Wopping brought out the 
necklace and gave it to Pollie. 

" In this golden ball," said he, 
" was hidden the clue to your 
identity. But it was unsuspected 
by me, and would have remained 



CONCLUSION. 



i^S 



so but for Mr. Jeakles, who told me 
its history and showed me its 
secret." 

The lawyer sat down, and, taking 
her hand in his, began, gently, the 
story of her mother's life. 

Long ere he had finished the tale 
Miss Rokewood had bent forward 
and covered her face with her hands. 

Tears fell thick and fast from 
the daughter's eyes as she listened 
to the story of that shadowed and 
hunted life. What were all the 
riches of earth in comparison with 
the wrong that had been done to 
her mother? 

" Take me to her," she said, as at 
last the lawyer ceased speaking. 
" She must live — she shall live to 
see happiness yet." 

" Come with me," said Wopping; 
"she is prepared for you, and is 
expecting you now." 

He led her to the door of the 
humble sky-parlour, and, waiting 
till it opened and closed upon her 
receding figure, went softly and 
silently away, leaving them, as we 
leave them now, to each other. 



CHAPTER XXVIII. 

CONCLUSION. 

A month had gone by since the 
scenes recorded in our last chapter. 

Captain Turtle and the showman's 
wife had arrived at an amicable un- 
derstanding over the payment of 
the great reward. 

They agreed that it should be 
divided equally between them. Ac- 
cordingly the detective had received 
ten thousand dollars as his share of 
it, and, expressing himself satisfied 
thereat, had returned to his home 
in the city by the great lake. 

Mrs. Jeakles, still having a fancy 
fo r theatricals, had taken her share 
and set out with the avowed inten- 
tion of buying seven more educated 
and valuable mules with which to 
start her husband up anew in the 
show business. 

In the interim Mr. Jeakles con- 
sented to remain with Miss Pollie, 
acting in the self-constituted charac- 
ter of guardian, friend and general 
adviser for that young lady. 

Mr. Bellew, Sr., had deemed it 
wiser to exchange his views of cer- 
tain matters, and accordingly has- 
tened to pay a formal call upon his 



ns 



THE ROKEWOOD TRAGEDY 



son's fiancee. He assured her he 
was overjoyed to hear of her great 
good fortune, and he congratulated 
her upon the change in her affairs. 
He hoped she would pardon him 
for certain utterances of his which 
had characterized their former inter- 
view long ago. The feelings of a 
parent who was naturally desirous 
of promoting his child's best interests 
had actuated him then, and must be 
his excuse now, he said. However, 
all objections to his son's union 
with her being now happily removed 
from his mind, he hinted delicately 
that he hoped Miss Pollie would 
not permit any unpleasant recollec- 
tions of former words of his to 
prejudice her against a favourable 
answer to his son's suit. For him- 
self, he was anxious to. assure her 
that Teddy's choice received his 
unqualified approval, and he stood 
ready to receive her at any moment 
as a daughter of his house. 

" Mercenary creature ! " thought 
Polly, as she watched the carriage 
roll away that held the pompous 
man who now aspired to be her 
father-in-law • " poor, mercenary 
old man ! you are detestable, and 
only to be endured for poor Teddy's 
sake." 

Even the odious Mr. Bolton had 



found it necessary to make a humble 
apology for the rudeness of his 
former epistle to the poor Nobody. 

" What a prodigious power there 
is in money ! " mused Miss Pollie, as 
one by one these evidences of her 
changed social position were pre- 
sented for her consideration. 

" I am no prettier, no more ac- 
complished, and certainly no better 
than I was six weeks ago. Yet here, 
in the short space of six weeks, I 
find myself weighted down with the 
attentions of people whom I care 
nothing for. Because I am richer 
in silver and gold, in bonds and 
mortgages, in houses and lands, I 
am therefore worthier, in the esti- 
mation of a sordid world. I wonder 
if it is always so ? " 

By slow and easy stages Catherine 
had been conveyed to her old child- 
hood's home — The Willows — where, 
surrounded by every luxury that 
wealth could buy, and ministered to 
by gentle hands, she slowly rallied 
from the shock that had so nearly 
killed her, and came back for a 
time to life and to love. 

Mr. Wopping had lost no time in 
procuring for her all the reparation 
which the law could give her. 

He had gone to the Governor, 
backed up with the physician's 



CONCLUSION. 



127 



statement and the old servant's tes- 
timony ; and, acquainting that offi- 
cial with the facts of the case, had 
received what he had craved in the 
shape of a certain legal document 
stamped with the great seal, and 
signed with the Governor's name. 

It was a pardon for a crime she 
had not committed. Can there be 
a greater travesty on justice than 
that ? 

However, this being all the law 
could do towards redressing the 
great wrong it had done her, she 
was glad to accept it, and did accept 
it, with a thankful heart. 

The ruined life, the years of 
agony, could not be changed or un- 
done. They must remain as ever- 
present memories while she lived ; 
and she did live. 

As if to illustrate the fallibility 
of the medical opinion, and entirely 
contrary to Dr. Barnes's predictions, 
and much to his surprise, Cathe- 
rine had gradually improved in 
health. 

The greatest physicians in the 
land had been summoned in con- 
sultation over her case, and while 
they all agreed that she could never 
be well again, they said that a sea 
voyage and a prolonged residence 
under milder skies would do much 



to benefit her. In Italy she might 
find renewed health and prolonged 
life, and it was determined that she 
should go. 

This naturally necessitated the 
appointment of an early date for 
the marriage of the lovers, much to 
Teddy's secret satisfaction. 

Pollie begged for a quiet wed- 
ding, but Catherine herself objected 
to this. " No," said she, laying 
her hand on her daughter's head, 
" no more quiet marriages here. 
The great mistake of my life was 
a secret marriage. How different 
this world would have been to me 
but for that private and secret 
marriage ! Put on your bridal 
bravery, my child, and go up to 
the altar in the face of the whole 
world, if it chooses to look on. 
But do not slip away secretly, and 
unknown to your friends assume 
those obligations which so change 
a woman's whole life. Do all that 
can be done to make your wedding- 
day one that will be happily re- 
membered." 

So one bright morning, in gloss 
of satin and glimmer of pearls, 
Pollie had gone to church, and 
priest and bishop had united in 
tying the knot which gave her to 
Teddy for ever. 



128 



THE HOKE WOOD TRAGEDY. 



Mr. Wopping had given away the 
bride, and later, at the wedding 
breakfast which followed at Roke- 
vvood, had toasted the young pair, 
and amid the congratulations and 
good wishes of the thousands of 
friends who had flocked about them, 
the party had gone down to the 



steamer which was to bear them 
away. 

As the sun had risen and thrown 
a broad red track across the rolling 
water, the ship had gone her way 
down the radiant round-out into 
the broader light of a new-born 
day. 



THE END. 



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